No one becomes a doctor to make a fashion statement, but a new study (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jhm.864/abstract) in the Journal of Hospital Medicine reports that the choice between long-sleeved white coats and freshly laundered scrubs might be a question of taste, not safety.
The report, “Newly Cleaned Physician Uniforms and Infrequently Washed White Coats Have Similar Rates of Bacterial Contamination After an 8-Hour Workday: A Randomized Controlled Trial,” found no statistically significant differences in bacterial or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) contamination of physicians’ white coats compared with scrubs or in contamination of the skin at the wrists of physicians wearing either garment.
In an email interview, Marisha Burden, MD, interim chief of hospital medicine at the Denver Health and Hospital Authority, says that the topic area came up during a review of research regarding MRSA and infection-control policies. Dr. Burden found references to the so-called “bare below the elbows” policy in the United Kingdom, a reference to 2007 rules from the British Department of Health banning long-sleeved coats in an attempt to stop nosocomial bacterial transmission.
“This policy was interesting to us secondary to the fact that there was no literature to support the measures being implemented,” Dr. Burden says. “ … Our data show that bacterial contamination of work clothes occurs within hours of putting them on, as well that at the end of an eight-hour workday, there is no difference in bacterial or MRSA contamination of either dress.”
Dr. Burden says the data do not support discarding white coats for uniforms that are changed on a daily basis, or for “requiring healthcare workers to avoid long-sleeved garments.” She also says that white coats have traditional lures as well as practical ones: Most of the physicians who declined to participate in the study did so because they refused to work without the pockets that came with their lab coats.
“I think we also have to consider the professional image that our physicians portray,” she adds. “Our patients expect their physicians to appear professional with clean, white coats.”—RQ
App Allows CT, MRI, PET Diagnoses Via iPhone, iPad
What can a hospitalist do the next time someone in the group has no immediate access to a work station but needs to make a medical diagnoses based on computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or positron emission tomography (PET)?
Grab the nearest iPhone.
The FDA recently approved an application from MIM Software Inc. of Cleveland to let doctors review medical images on the iPhone and iPad via a secure network transfer. The application, Mobile MIM, is the first with the FDA’s imprimatur. It allows hospitalists and other physicians to measure distance on the image and image intensity values and display measurement lines, annotations, and regions of interest, according to the FDA.
“Think of how cell phones were perceived a few decades ago; many dismissed ‘anytime access’ as not necessary,” MIM chief technology officer Mark Cain says in an email. “Yet now we know myriad of cases where the cell phone has proven immensely valuable. The same can be said of diagnostic medical image access. How many ways can this improve healthcare? More ways than I can predict.”—RQ
Research Confirms Benefits of ICU Safety Checklists
The value of checklists containing evidence-supported QI interventions to improve ICU outcomes, pioneered at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, has been confirmed by several recent studies. The Keystone ICU Project, which sought to replicate the Hopkins experience in hospitals across Michigan, succeeded in nearly eliminating bloodstream infections and reducing mortality.1