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Version of Record online: 10 FEB 2011
Copyright © 2011 Society of Hospital Medicine
Journal of Hospital Medicine
Volume 6, Issue 4, pages 177–182, April 2011
How to Cite
Burden, M., Cervantes, L., Weed, D., Keniston, A., Price, C. S. and Albert, R. K. (2011), Newly cleaned physician uniforms and infrequently washed white coats have similar rates of bacterial contamination after an 8-hour workday: A randomized controlled trial. J. Hosp. Med., 6: 177–182. doi: 10.1002/jhm.864
Disclosure: Nothing to report.
- Issue online: 7 APR 2011
- Version of Record online: 10 FEB 2011
- Manuscript Accepted: 25 SEP 2010
- Manuscript Revised: 13 SEP 2010
- Manuscript Received: 7 MAY 2010
- methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus;
- white coat;
- bare below the elbows
Governmental agencies in the United Kingdom and Scotland have recently instituted guidelines banning physicians' white coats and the wearing of long-sleeved garments to decrease nosocomial transmission of bacteria.
Our aim was to compare the degree of bacterial and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus contamination of physicians' white coats with that of newly laundered, standardized short-sleeved uniforms after an 8-hour workday and to determine the rate at which bacterial contamination of the uniform ensued.
The design was a prospective, randomized controlled trial.
The setting was a university-affiliated public safety-net hospital.
One hundred residents and hospitalists on an internal medicine service participated.
Subjects wore either a physician's white coat or a newly laundered short-sleeved uniform.
Bacterial colony count and the frequency with which methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus was cultured from both garments over time were measured.
No statistically significant differences were found in bacterial or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus contamination of physicians' white coats compared with newly laundered short-sleeved uniforms or in contamination of the skin at the wrists of physicians wearing either garment. Colony counts of newly laundered uniforms were essentially zero, but after 3 hours of wear they were nearly 50% of those counted at 8 hours.
Bacterial contamination occurs within hours after donning newly laundered short-sleeved uniforms. After 8 hours of wear, no difference was observed in the degree of contamination of uniforms versus infrequently laundered white coats. Our data do not support discarding long-sleeved white coats for short-sleeved uniforms that are changed on a daily basis. Journal of Hospital Medicine 2011. © 2011 Society of Hospital Medicine.