Don’t Trust a Doctor Wearing a Tie

Man fixing tieSome people in New York want people in the healthcare industry to be banned from wearing ties and jewelry after research has shown that neckties worn by doctors and other medical personnel are carrying infection-causing bacteria.

In 2004 researchers at the New York Hospital Medical Center of Queens found that nearly half (47.6%) of neckties worn by clinicians harbored “potential disease-causing bacteria”. Clinicians included physicians, physician assistants and medical students at the teaching hospital. For comparison they also tested neckties worn by security personnel. The odds were 8 times greater that a clinician’s tie would be harboring bacteria compared to the security personnels’ ties.

The researchers said that there’s no direct evidence that neckties transmit infections to patients, however a health center in St. Louis “saw a 50 percent drop in reduction in infections when a hygienic dress code was provided” (which I am assuming included other rules, including the banning of ties). A hospital in Indiana has had no reported instances of hospital-acquired infection because of their hygienic dress code.

Patients who get MRSA, which is a huge problem in hospitals, have average stays that cost almost twice as much and are for almost twice as long compared to non-infected patients. New York’s cost of medical malpractice insurance continues to rise as a result of awards paid out because of “preventable medical mistakes”, which includes infections acquired in the hospital. Senator Diane Savino says that “adopting a hygienic dress code for medical professionals means less infections, less lawsuits, lower medical malpractice premiums and more lives saved.”

Apparently this is too nanny state for some people even though the benefits for patients, hospitals and insurers could be significant and dress codes are already enforced in hospitals and elsewhere.

Do you think this is going too far?

Image credit: Daniel Zedda