White coats face cull in 'superbug' fight
Monday, 17 Sep 2007 10:12
[Long-sleeved white coats will no longer be allowed on hospital wards]
Long-sleeved white coats will no longer be allowed on hospital wards
Traditional doctors' long-sleeved white coats will no longer be allowed on hospital wards as part of measures to tackle hospital 'superbugs'.
A new 'below the elbow' dress code announced today rules out long shirt sleeves, wrist watches, jewellery and ties.
It is thought that long-sleeved clothing prevents thorough hand and wrist washing, which is vital to reduce rates of the infections MRSA and Clostridium difficile (C-diff).
Latest figures from the Health Protection Agency show that rates of MRSA are falling but cases of C-diff have risen this year.
As well as ensuring short-sleeved clothes, other measures outlined by the health secretary Alan Johnson include making sure matrons play a role in monitoring ward cleanliness.
They will be required along with clinical directors to report quarterly to trust boards on infection control and cleanliness.
Today's guidance also calls for an increased use of isolation for patients infected with MRSA and C-diff in single bedrooms.
Trust chief executives will face a legal requirement to report infection rates and those who do not will face fines.
Commenting on the measures, Mr Johnson said he is "determined" cleanliness should be the "first priority of every NHS organisation".
"Across the NHS we continue to bring the number of MRSA cases down and make progress on measures to reduce C-difficile," he added.
"Today's package of measures will give more responsibility to matrons and set guidelines on clothing that will help ensure thorough hand washing and prevent the spread of infections. This is a clear signal to patients that doctors, nurses, and other clinical staff are taking their safety seriously."
The measures have been welcomed by health organisations; Royal College of Nursing general secretary Dr Peter Carter said the guidance is a "positive step forward".
Dr Vivienne Nathanson, head of science and ethics for the British Medical Association, added: "It is very important to emphasise, however, that clean hands, bare elbows and short-sleeves are only one aspect of preventing and controlling infection.
"A co-ordinated approach addressing all the relevant factors, for example dress code, bed occupancy, hygiene in hospital and isolation policies, is most likely to be successful."
End of story