Clothing can be a virtual conveyor belt for infections. Studies have shown that when doctors and nurses lean over a patient with MRSA, their coats and uniforms pick up bacteria 65 percent of the time. Additional studies have shown that ties worn by doctors and other medical staff had bacteria that could cause illness.
What’s more, improper use and removal of personal protective equipment (for example—gowns, gloves, masks) can have negative health consequences to the healthcare worker. During the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in Canada, 44 percent of the probable SARS cases were in healthcare workers because they failed to properly don and doff personal protective equipment. Make sure your attire does not become a source of infection.
What you can do:
- Wear gowns and other personal protective equipment while caring for patients who may have infections to reduce the chance of spreading germs from patients or items in their environment to other patients or environments.
- Wash uniforms and other clothing worn to work daily in hot water and laundry detergent, or with cold water and bleach. Drying clothes completely in a hot dryer, rather than air-drying, also helps kill bacteria in clothes. Do not mix soiled uniforms with other personal clothing.
Learn more and share:
- White coats as a vehicle for bacterial dissemination—Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research
- Don’t retire that (dirty) white coat: Doctors are awash in bacteria, no matter what they wear—Today’s Hospitalist