Should Hospitals Ban Neckties to Prevent the Spread of Infection?
Should Hospitals Ban Neckties to Prevent the Spread of Infection? Chukwuma I. Onyeije, M.D. http://maternalfetalmedicineblog.com
Presentation Adapted from WSJ Article by Rebecca Smith: Nothing to Sneeze At: Doctors' Neckties Seen as Flu Risk Hospitals Propose Bans, but Old-Schoolers Resist Loosening Up; a Germ-Free Design <ul><li>http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125859205137154753.html </li></ul><ul><li>November 20th, 2009 </li></ul>
Let's face it: Neckties are rarely, if ever, cleaned.
When a patient is seated on the examining table, the doctors' necktie often dangles perilously close to sneeze level.
In recent years, a debate has emerged in the medical community over whether neckties harbor dangerous germs. As a result, several hospitals have proposed banning them outright.
Some veteran doctors suspect the antinecktie campaign has more to do with younger physicians' desire to dress casually than it does with modern medicine
The American Medical Association is considering changes in dress code to decrease hospital spread infections. <ul><li>RESOLUTION 720 - HOSPITAL DRESS CODES FOR 2 THE REDUCTION OF NOSOCOMIAL TRANSMISSION OF DISEASE </li></ul><ul><ul><li>http://www.ama-assn.org/ama1/pub/upload/mm/31/media-summary.pdf </li></ul></ul>
<ul><li>In 2006 British Medical Association recommended that physicians jettison "functionless" articles of clothing, including neckties since “superbugs can be carried on them." </li></ul>
Results of a 2004 analysis of neckties at New York Hospital Medical Center of Queens Percentage of Neckties harboring potentially disease-causing bacteria 50% 10% Abstract: 104th general meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, New Orleans, May 23-27, 2004.
<ul><li>Many doctors, however, favor ties for the air of formality a necktie lends the profession. </li></ul>
<ul><li>April Strider, founder of SafeSmart Inc. in St. Augustine, Fla., now sells ties treated with a stain-resistant coating that the company says stops microbes in their tracks </li></ul>
Some experts believe ties are being scapegoated as disease spreaders. Michael Bell, Associate Director for infection control at the Centers for Disease Control says: "It's understandable to focus on a necktie, because it dangles, but all clothing has bacteria on it," He adds "I don't think removing pieces of clothing is the answer."
Dr. Bell advises physicians to follow proper procedures for frequent hand washing, and to thoroughly clean all articles of clothing, including neckties, often.
Recognizing the risks of ties, some doctors prefer a bow tie in the belief that the lack of a flapping tail reduced the risk of infection. Reference:BMJ 2003;326:1231 (7 June),
What do patient's think? A search of the literature by Dr. Matthew Bianchi, (a physician in the neurology department at Massachusetts General Hospital) ,turned up ample evidence that patients don't pay much attention to how doctors dress. In one study, patients who were quizzed after clinic visits were mistaken 30% to 50% of the time about whether the doctor had been wearing a tie. Bianchi MT. J Gen Intern Med. 2008 May;23(5):641-3. Epub 2008 Feb 20. Desiderata or dogma: what the evidence reveals about physician attire http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18286342.