3. Coat Hooks
The SHEA guidelines call for organizations to provide coat hooks where white coats and other long-sleeved outerwear can be placed prior to patient contact.
Andrew Shulman, MD, PhD
This would mean that during rounds, clinicians would be spending a lot of time taking their coats off and putting them back on again. And what if two or more clinicians need to see the patient at the same time? Who gets to use the hook?
The committee did not find enough evidence to tell healthcare providers they can't wear neckties, saying their role in transmission "remains undetermined." Bearman explains that studies have shown that neckties can become colonized with pathogens, and there's "biologic plausibility that neckties could dangle on patients, devices, wounds or skin and potentially cross transmit a pathogen," there's no evidence that it has.
Just to be on the safe side, however, especially since ties are rarely if ever washed in hot water (unless by mistake), clinicians should avoid neckties. But if they feel they must wear them, "at the very least fasten it so that it doesn't dip into or come into direct contact with a patient. You could have a coat or vest that holds it back, or a tie clip, or you could simply have a button in your dress shirt and tuck the tie in."
Another idea: Wear a bow tie. Andrew Shulman, MD, PhD, a pediatric rheumatologist on Orange County, CA, is a bow tie wearer and advocate who has written about why he wears them. (He was not involved with the SHEA study.)