Are doctors' dirty clothes spreading disease?
Posted On behalf of Michael D'Amico of D'Amico & Pettinicchi, LLC on Jan 29, 2014 in Medical Malpractice
When someone in Bristol goes to the hospital, he or she is injured or sick, and likely has a weakened immune system. This means that many people are susceptible to hospital-acquired infections, dangerous diseases that are passed around the hospital by staff, patients or just poorly cleaned rooms. When hospitals don't take into account the methods of transfer and actively try to prevent illness, they may become liable if someone is seriously injured or dies from a hospital-acquired infection.
One of the ways that disease can be spread from patient to patient is by the doctors and nurses, specifically by their clothes. Say a doctor has a dangling tie on when he or she visits a patient with a highly contagious condition. When the doctor then moves into a room with an individual with a suppressed immune system and the tie touches the patient, that doctor could be responsible for any illness the second patient subsequently develops. The statistics on health professionals' clothes is frightening.
When hospital workers wear scrubs to work, they are likely to wash them every one or two days. By minimizing how long they are worn between washes, doctors and nurses are lessening the number of diseases that they could be spreading. Oftentimes, however, doctors also wear white lab coats, but lab coats are generally washed every 12 days.
The most frightening statistic, however, comes back to ties. Research has shown that around 33 percent of doctors' ties are covered in Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. Moreover, 70 percent of doctors never clean their ties.
Is there concrete evidence yet linking hospital-acquired infections to clothing? No, but that doesn't mean that hospitals shouldn't be doing more to reduce germ transfer between patients.
Source: USA Today, “Germy lab coats and ties prompt dress code for doctors,” Kim Painter, Jan. 21, 2014