By Pat Kelly. A consultant microbiologist has criticised doctors for dressing informally, citing a “lack of personal hygiene and correspondingly lower standards of hygienic behaviour”.
Commenting on bmj.com, Dr Stephanie Dancer, Consultant Microbiologist at Hairmyres Hospital in NHS Lanarkshire, UK, said that 2007 guidance from the UK’s Department of Health that doctors should forego ties in the interests of infection control has led to an erosion of “the image of doctors as responsible and competent”.
Dr Dancer also pointed to what she described as a lack of evidence to suggest that a doctor’s white coat is responsible for the transmission of bacteria: “Hand touch contact, airborne delivery, environmental reservoirs and human carriage are all implicated in transmission,” she said, while continuing by saying that “doctors are members of a distinguished profession and should dress accordingly.”
Dr Dancer bemoaned what she saw as an increasing number of doctors abandoning formal wear, leading to a situation where patients “do not know who the doctor is”.
Doctors choosing their own attire led to a “lack of personal hygiene and correspondingly lower standards of hygienic behaviour,” insisted Dr Dancer. “Easy access to antibiotics has eroded the importance of basic hygiene over the past half century,” she added, commenting that since hygiene was no longer a life-or death consideration in modern medicine, “it’s no wonder our junior doctors dress the way they do.”