In the battle against hospital-acquired infections, experts are now focusing on a hitherto neglected source of contamination- clothes worn by hospital staff, including doctors and nurses. According to new guidance that was released recently by the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, dozens of studies now seem to suggest dirty, or contaminated hospital gear might be responsible for spreading some very dangerous disease-causing pathogens in a hospital.
The link between hospital worker clothing and dangerous pathogens has not been conclusively established, but there have been several studies conducted earlier that have suggested pathogens can be transmitted from the contaminated clothing of doctors and nurses. When a doctor with contaminated clothing is attending to a weak and sick patient, the chances of the patient contracting an infection is much higher.
According to the presentation by the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, there have been a number of studies have found pathogens ranging all the way from Clostridium difficile to Acinetobacter on clothing of hospital workers, including doctors and nurses. These organisms were detected on the pockets and sleeves as well as other areas of the clothing worn by health-care workers.
Neckties were found to be a particularly fertile source of organisms. For instance, in one study, approximately one-third of neckties worn by doctors were found to contain staph aureus. In many cases, the neckties contained organisms that simply didn't respond to common antibiotics.
Now, the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology Of America says that dress codes for doctors and nurses in a hospital must be modified in order to reduce the risk of those infections. The new guidelines call for short sleeves, bare hands and forearms, and avoiding neckties. It also calls for wearing closed-toe shoes that are sturdy and well fitting, and for clothes to be laundered with hot water and bleach.