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30-Jan-14 8:00 AM  CST  

Should the Healthcare Industry Think Twice About Continuing to Use the Traditional White Coat? 

The traditional white coat is worn by many healthcare professionals, including pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, but there is new concern over the spreading of germs from the healthcare professional to the patient via their white coat or neck tie.  The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America recently made recommendations on the use of white coats and keeping the level of germs down between healthcare professionals and patients.  The recommendations will appear in the February 2014 online edition of the journal “Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.”  Below are a few of the suggestions:   


  • Arms should be bare below the elbows.  This means wearing short sleeves and not wearing a watch, tie, or jewelry. 
  • Clothing which comes in contact with patients should be washed often. 
  • The recommendations also suggest that workers have more than one white coat (two or more), and affordable access to laundering these coats.   


            Dr. Mark Rupp, Chief of the Division of Infectious Disease at the University Of Nebraska Medical Center, and one of the authors of the recommendations recently commented on the suggestions in an article for Medline Plus.  “White coats, neckties, and wrist watches can become contaminated and may potentially serve as vehicles to carry germs from one patient to another.  However, it is unknown whether white coats and neckties play any real role in transmission of infection.  Until better data are available, hospitals and doctor’s offices should be concentrating on well-known ways to prevent transmission of infection – like hand hygiene, environmental cleaning, and careful attention to insertion and care of invasive devices like vascular (blood vessel) catheters,” said Rupp. 

            So, for now, pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and doctors can enjoy wearing their white coat a little longer. 




1.  Preidt, Robert.   “Time for Docs to Ditch the White Coat.”  Medline Plus.  Web.  Date of Access:  27 Jan 2014. 


2.  Moore, Tamara.  “Infectious Disease Experts Issue Guidance On Healthcare Personnel Attire.”  SHEA – The Society of Healthcare Epidemiology of America.  Web.  Date of Access:  27 Jan 2014. 

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For additional information on this Article article, please contact:

Jennifer O'Reilly

Source: Jennifer S. O’Reilly for NPTA

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