DOCTORS who like to look smart as they patrol hospital wards have been told to tuck in their ties when they are near patients.
The dress code requires doctors to tuck their tie into the shirt to avoid it draping over the patient at the bedside, according to Dr Kevin Kelleher, head of health protection in the Health Service Executive (HSE).
However, he said the “wearing of white coats and ties” were personal rather than infectioncontrol matters.
“But the public believe there is a risk. And they did not like seeing hospital staff in uniform away from the workplace.
“Although it has been hypothesised that contaminated clothes are a potential vehicle for transmission of germs, no studies have demonstrated the transfer of micro-organisms from uniforms to patients in a clinical situation.” Nevertheless, there are situations of higher risk in the hospital where infection control measures need to be stepped up and patients protected from cross-contamination.
The code says: Sleeve cuffs can become contaminated and can come into contact with patients.
- Shirt sleeves need to be kept short or rolled up to the elbow.
- Theatre scrubs cannot be worn around the staff restaurant.
- The scrubs need to be laundered through the hospital laundry service.
- If the uniform is splashed with blood or other substances it must be changed.
- Hands should be washed after removing uniforms or protective clothing.
Dr Kelleher was replying to a parliamentary question by Fine Gael TD Patrick O’Donovan, who had asked if neckties and white coat are an infection risk.
One study showed that laboratory testing found that 20 of 42 doctors’ neckties carried bacteria, compared with one out of 10 of the ties worn by security guards.
A doctor was eight times more likely to carry potential disease-causing bacteria on his tie, compared with a security guard.