The days of the iconic doctor's white coat may be numbered as more opt for the blue, short-sleeved scrubs uniform, familiar on television shows like 'Grey's Anatomy'.
Scrubs are likely to be better for doctors when it comes to infection control and keeping patients safe from bugs like MRSA.
However, some education of patients is needed as they like their doctors to look smart, and building trust and confidence in their consultant is important in their treatment.
This has been proven in a new study, which tested patients' attitudes to their doctors' fashion style in Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, and Portlaoise Hospital, Co Laois.
The study pointed out that, in the UK, the Department of Health devised guidelines for developing dress codes for healthcare professionals.
"In addition to potentially reducing bacterial transfer from clothing and jewellery, it was proposed that adopting a 'bare-below-the-elbows' (BBTE) policy would improve hand hygiene by enabling more effective hand-washing.
"This involves wearing short sleeves and advises against white coats, neck-ties and jewellery," said the study, which was led by Dr Anne Collins, in the 'Irish Medical Journal'.
However, concerns have been raised about the effects of the bare-below-the-elbows style on patients' confidence in their doctors.
As part of the study, patients were shown pictures of doctors in formal, semi-formal and smart-casual outfits as well as in the traditional doctor's white coat and surgical scrubs.
* Patients in Beaumont Hospital said formal attire – a shirt and tie – was the best choice for a hospital consultant. They said scrubs and the smart-casual look were inappropriate. For junior doctors, the white coat and scrubs got their approval.
* Patients in Portlaoise also opted for the shirt-and-tie look, with scrubs again down in the rankings.
However, when it was explained to them how scrubs could potentially improve infection control and reduce the risks of them getting an infection, they changed their minds.
The authors pointed out that, despite the recommendations about the change in doctors' uniform, there was still a lack of conclusive evidence linking contaminated coats, ties and jewellery to the spread of infection.