Newly released recommendations from the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) regarding controlling the spread of germs is raising concerns about another possible cause of infection. Could clothing and accessories worn by doctors and other medical professionals be a risk factor for spreading germs?
The recommendations appear online in the February edition of the journal Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.
One of the authors of the recommendations, Dr. Mark Rupp, believes it’s a possibility. He notes that both clothing (e.g. neckties, white coats) and accessories (e.g. rings, watches) could potentially spread germs as a result of contamination.
However, Dr. Rupp notes that until more is known of this risk, healthcare professionals and facilities should focus on other known measures of preventing the spread of hospital-acquired infection. Sterile environments, proper hand washing techniques and appropriate use/care of invasive devices (such as catheters) are some examples.
SHEA Recommendations Regarding Doctor Attire
Meanwhile, some of the recommendations from the SHEA include:
- keeping the arms below the elbow bare (wear short sleeves and avoid jewelry);
- have two or more white coats on hand;
- provide hooks to hang white coats before making contact with immediate surroundings and/or patient;
- frequently laundering clothing that comes in contact with surroundings and/or patient;
- thoroughly clean shared equipment in between use (i.e. stethoscope); and
- eliminate, replace or disinfect other items that may come into contact with surroundings and/or patient (identification badges, lanyards, pagers).
Taking Legal Action after Hospital-Acquired Infection
When a hospital-acquired infection results in serious or deadly consequences, victims and their families can pursue legal action against a negligent facility. Claimants and plaintiffs must establish that a facility or doctor acted outside of the reasonable standard of care and that those actions caused the infection. At this time, though, wearing white coats and ties may not be grounds for legal claims alleging negligent infection control measures.
Contact Gacovino, Lake & Associates to discuss the details of your case. Call us at 800-550-0000 to set up a consultation.