Time for a dress code for doctors, group says

The American Hospital Association is encouraging hospitals nationwide to embrace a new dress code if they haven’t already, the Cox Washington Bureau has learned.

The new standards include short-sleeves for doctors, nurses and health care workers.

The guidelines also advise against wearing wristwatches or jewelry below the elbow that could come into contact with patients.

"White coats are something you might not see depending on how a health system implements these guidelines,” said Eve Humphreys, executive director of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, which released the new guidelines online this month.

She estimates there are 1.7 million cases every year of patients getting an infection while in the hospital.

If doctors wear white coats, they should leave them on hooks when they enter patient rooms, the new guidelines say.

White coats should be washed at least once a week, and clothing that comes into contact with patients should be washed daily.

The authors of the new standards say studies do not prove there is a direct link between attire and infection but a link is possible.

"Protecting our patients from harm is the goal of every hospital's patient safety efforts, and preventing the spread of infection is one of the most important things we can do to keep patients safe," said Nancy Foster, vice president of quality and patient safety for the American Hospital Association.

Humphreys says there is no significant cost associated with the new guidelines.