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Study: Hospital uniforms are laden with disease-causing bacteria

Consumer Reports News: September 07, 2011 11:23 AM

A new study in the September issue of the American Journal of Infection Control found that 60 percent of physician coats and nurse uniforms at a large hospital in Israel carried potentially disease-causing bacteria, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

In the study, 63 percent of the physicians' and nurses' outerwear at Hebrew University's Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem had at least one spot sampled on their outer clothing carried pathogenic bacteria. These bacteria were isolated from half of the 235 samples taken from participants' coats, uniforms, and scrub suits. These results were found despite the fact that most study participants said they changed their uniforms daily.

Researchers said that it is unknown how frequently bacteria are transmitted from the clothing of healthcare workers to patients. But they did have some suggestions to help with the cleanliness of hospital uniforms, such as short sleeved coats, or getting rid of doctor's coats altogether. Other suggestions included strict hand hygiene, regularly laundering uniforms, and plastic aprons for situations when hospital staff may contact body fluids.

Our recent analysis shows how some hospitals are doing better than others at preventing hospital-acquired infections. You can read more at Deadly infections: How good is your hospital at preventing them? We also recently reported how New York senators wanted doctors to lose germ-infested neckties. Which is exactly why our own Marvin Lipman M.D. wears a bow tie.

Nursing and physician attire as possible source of nosocomial infections [American Journal of Infection Control]
Hospital Uniforms Teeming With Germs, Study Finds [MedPage Today]

Maggie Shader

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