Public Health

Should Docs Ditch Their Neckties?

E.R.'s hot doc James Carter (Noah Wylie) needed no help looking sharp in his labcoat and tie—but are those long sleeves and layers a hazard to patients?

At its annual meeting later this month, the American Medical Association will consider a wardrobe revolution that many believe could limit the spread of MRSA and other dangerous infections in hospitals.

"I think the ties should go" says Peter Ragusa, a 4th year medical student at the University of Minnesota. Ragusa explains that neck ties as well as the long-sleeves on the standard white-doctor jackets can harbor bacteria.

He's a fan of the "bare below the elbows" approach recently adopted in the United Kingdom.

Ragusa says it's too soon to know for certain how well the new British policy is working. And certainly there will be opponents in the U.S. who say it's important for physicians to look professional in their traditional jackets and coats. (Traditional? Tell that to tie-dyed docs).

In the meantime, Doctor-to-be Ragusa is still tied to ties. "It's my school policy to wear one," he says.

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