Fighting hospital infections by changing the dress code

In a move that may migrate across the pond, British hospitals have banned neckties, long sleeves and jewelry for doctors in an effort to cut back further on sources of hospital-acquired infections.  The ban, which also extends to the traditional physician's white coat, is designed largely to cut down on the spread of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Generally speaking, the code's intent is for doctors to be "bare below the elbows" to avoid carrying dangerous bugs.

As with the U.S., MRSA is a huge problem in British hospitals, accounting for more than 40 percent of in-hospital blood infections there. And it seems that many commonly-used wardrobe items are contributing to the problem. For example, in one study conducted in a New York hospital in 2004, nearly half of doctors' neckties carried at least one species of infectious germs. However, few U.S. hospitals have adopted such codes to date, arguing that lack of hand washing should be a primary focus in fighting infections. They note that there's little evidence that dress restrictions help in cutting infection rates.

To learn more about the new rules:
- read this Associated Press piece

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