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'Ban Indian doctors from wearing white coats'


Bengaluru, Jul 22 (IANS): Banning Indian doctors and medical students from wearing long-sleeved white coats could reduce the spread of infections in hospitals, says a new study.

"Long sleeved coats spread infection and lead to avoidable harm and cost to patients," said Edmond Fernandes, a postgraduate at Yenepoya Medical College.

"Every hospital should have a committee to check and respond to hospital acquired infections," he added.

"But an easy win would be for India's ministry of health to ban doctors and medical students from wearing white coats, to reduce the harm and cost that results from hospital acquired infections," Fernandes said in the study published in the journal The BMJ.

"Although long sleeved white coats have traditionally been worn by doctors since the 19th century, we now know that white coats harbour potential contaminants and contribute considerably to the burden of disease acquired in hospital by spreading infection," Fernandes added.

He said that in India, changing areas in hospitals are rare because of space constraints, so white coats are commonly worn by students coming from college and outside the hospital. They are also often left on chairs, tables, and in corridors.


Dr Edmond Fernandes

He added that in many cities in India some junior doctors are also now seen wearing white coats in shopping malls and cinemas too, and then they enter sterile zones in the hospital in the same attire.

"Given India's tropical climate, common sense indicates that we should discourage wearing white coats that are washed perhaps only every few weeks," Fernandes said.

In 2007, the United Kingdom took the landmark decision to ban long sleeved white coats - and that in 2009, the American Medical Association wanted to follow suit and dump the white coats, "but the proposal was dismissed because clinicians wanted to keep their traditional gowns", he said.

"White coats are mere symbolism and wearing them does not itself confer status or professionalism," Fernandes added.

"Dressing presentably and sporting a smile are more important than white coats and that institutions should give every medical student and doctor a recognisable name badge to wear," he said.


Comment on this article

  • nitesh joshi, sirsi ,karnataka

    Fri, Jul 24 2015

    i think apron is like a double edged sword. ..if it is kept clean and worn only in hospital premises it helps to check the spread of infection from the patient to the examining doctor(especially in labor rooms and pnc wards)At the other end of spectrum dirty aprons will act as vehicles for transmission of infection harboured from patient to another..full sleeve aprons have the highest risk of contamination along with risks of transmission especially in Indian scenario where one has to examine dozens of patients every hour..

    DisAgree Agree [1] Reply Report Abuse

  • robert, brazil Rio

    Fri, Jul 24 2015

    many people not understood what is written, some joke try and understand the message do not waste your time writing or understand wrong

    DisAgree Agree Reply Report Abuse

  • Derek, Balmatta

    Fri, Jul 24 2015

    To all posts before me..you have it all wrong.

    Agsin I do not blame you but the publisher who put the headlines!!

    Dr Edmond Fernandes spoke CLEARLY about 'LONG SLEEVES" white coat. In the west and elsewhere, it is always "SHORT SLEEVE" coat which is worn.

    DisAgree Agree [3] Reply Report Abuse

  • Dr Shrikara Mallya P, Mangalore

    Thu, Jul 23 2015

    Really surprising.Doctor's white coat can transmit infection HOW? Whether each doctor hug the patient while treating or microbes jump from coat to patients body.All microbiologists know that main mode of transmission of hospital infection is through hands.Hand washing and cleanliness are the main preventive measures.Wear clean white coat that is all.Why it should be banned The doctor was lucky this paper accepted for publication in British journal.Congratulations.But now I feel the standard of Indian journals are far better than foreign journals.Hope these foreign journals won't publish a paper 'Ban Indian doctors from using hands in the Hospital.Remember every where it is cleanliness that counts in the hospital not the articles that we use from many decades

    DisAgree [5] Agree [11] Reply Report Abuse

  • Simon, M'lore/UK

    Thu, Jul 23 2015

    Now only butchers ware white court all over the world except India..

    DisAgree [1] Agree [4] Reply Report Abuse

  • G M Hegde, Udupi

    Thu, Jul 23 2015

    has nothing better to do except Ctrl Paste. Instead make it mandatory to follow asceptic conditions and protocol. Even today an "autowala" comes and picks up blood stained clothes from the biggest of hospitals and these are washed at the nearest "dhobighat" or "nalla" to save costs inspite of having the drycleaning technology in order to save on costs which are absolutely meager when compared to the risks. How many of us have ever even thought of asceptic conditions at our dentist, where protocol is so poorly followed and is the #1 place for spread of disease. Here instrument sterilization is not taken seriously enough as much as it should be.

    DisAgree [2] Agree [4] Reply Report Abuse

  • shuba, mumbai

    Thu, Jul 23 2015

    If white coats to be banned then make it blue or green or yellow so that the public recognise who is the doctor in the waiting room.
    Also it is upto the doctors to have worn a clean hygienic coat to treat the patients, color is secondary.

    DisAgree [5] Agree [8] Reply Report Abuse

  • Simon, M'lore/UK

    Thu, Jul 23 2015

    How about pink

    DisAgree Agree [1] Reply Report Abuse

  • Flavian, Mangaluru/Kuwait

    Thu, Jul 23 2015

    "Given India's tropical climate, common sense indicates that we should discourage wearing white coats that are washed perhaps only every few weeks,"
    Very good observation & suggestion from Dr. Edmond Fernandes.
    Medical students who wear white coats in Cinemas halls, Shopping malls want to show to the world that they are someone special or want to gain others attention.
    Ages back I had personally seen in Mangalore,some foreign medical students visiting Holly Wood bar in their professional attire.
    What about our Lawyers ?

    DisAgree [1] Agree [9] Reply Report Abuse

  • Praveen Kumar, Surathkal/Bangalore

    Thu, Jul 23 2015

    It is a good thought. But why only Doctor's attire? In this case all uniforms should be banned in hospitals and health centers. Starting from Driver to Doctor.




    DisAgree [3] Agree [4] Reply Report Abuse

  • Simon, M'lore/UK

    Thu, Jul 23 2015

    uniform should ware only in the work place not on road

    DisAgree [1] Agree [7] Reply Report Abuse

  • Agnello DSouza, Mangalore

    Thu, Jul 23 2015

    I take opposite view. Wearing White coats by Medicos should be made compulsory and is actually very beneficial for us commoners. We can distinguish who the medicos are and who aren't. We can then treat them as untouchables and avoid getting infections from them.

    DisAgree [7] Agree [8] Reply Report Abuse

  • Dr. Madhyastha. H, Balkudru

    Thu, Jul 23 2015

    Hi Agnello DSouza, Mangalore
    you mean to say if infected medico wear white coat it is ok in society. Comon.

    DisAgree [1] Agree [7] Reply Report Abuse

  • Agnello DSouza, Mangalore

    Thu, Jul 23 2015

    C'mon doctor. Humor is best medicine. Don't take me so seriously..

    DisAgree [3] Agree [4] Reply Report Abuse

  • Agnello DSouza, Mangalore

    Thu, Jul 23 2015

    On a serious note. The issue Dr. Edmond brings out is prevention of infection.While the issue is dealt at length by the doctor we should also look at cleanliness at the clinics and hospitals.The clinics hardly get disinfected.Hospital waste disposal norms should be strictly implemented for both hospitals and private clinics. Most of the clinics one has to keep the footwear out thus exposing the foot to the microbes and this practice should be stopped. The clinics should compulsorily keep sanitizers for visitors so that they can wipe their hands clean.People accompanying the patient should be limited in hospitals and clinics . Awareness campaigns should be conducted by health departments and private institutes as part of their CSR. Small actions will pay big dividends.
    About those who show off that hey are doctors. I think its oK for youngsters to be proud and show off. I think even if their coats are banned they should be allowed to have a badge that they are doctors. Population at large can use them for any emergencies at hand by knowing that they are doctors. Any doctor not contributing to an emergency should be hauled up and their qualification suspended for sometime.

    DisAgree Agree [6] Report Abuse

  • Prem, Mangalore

    Thu, Jul 23 2015

    Coats- Whether they are White or Red, can spread. Then you need to know Why Docs wear Coat ? May be several Reasons. I am a layman..Please
    1. To Distinguish Drs. and Medicos From Others and Patients
    2. To Protect Themselves and healthy Public (So that they do not come out to the public with the contaminated/blood stained dress.
    3. With pockets to keep essencials
    4. White because you know the dirt fast and clear.
    Why only Coats spread ? The shirt can Spread too. Does it mean a Doc should not wear Dress? .
    Should Any body teach Specific to the Doctors to keep everything neat and sterile including his Watch ? American Doctors know better and conduct better. They preach and practice. If the Doctors are determined not to wash their coats, GOD save the Patients and Public !

    DisAgree [9] Agree [13] Reply Report Abuse

  • Sam, Mangalore/Dubai

    Thu, Jul 23 2015

    I do agree with Dr. Fernandes. Even the nurses must be stopped from wearing their uniforms while going around. Now a days it is communally seen that nurses dress at home and travel with their uniform on two Wheeler or take a long walk to the Hospital.
    It would be great if our Health minister Mr. Kadder look into this matter & bring in a general ruling it would be great.

    DisAgree [4] Agree [13] Reply Report Abuse

  • Dr. Madhyastha. H, Balkudru

    Thu, Jul 23 2015

    Look apron is to be used in hospital area and special apron to be used in specilised area like surgery room, ICU, pediatric room etc of hospital. But in Inda it and neckless (Stethescope)has become public atire that everywhere, in road, canteen, hotel, mall, fish market etc, just to to get attention of general public. In short it has become a status symbol than the cause symbol. I have seen some medical students even they enter hospital toilet with this apron what a funny guys.Whether ICMR hear thisand look at this issue of misuse the noble items of medical profession.

    DisAgree Agree [21] Reply Report Abuse

  • Damodar Bhat, Udupi

    Thu, Jul 23 2015

    Medical students want to look different from the rest. Some think they have come from space and are arrogant. They have a very high opinion of themselves.

    Wearing of dirty / sweaty white coats must be banned.

    DisAgree [1] Agree [19] Reply Report Abuse

  • Mangalurian, Mangaluru

    Thu, Jul 23 2015

    I would be very keen to know the MEDICAL qualifications of Edmond Fernandes.

    Does he have any to justify using the title of Dr?

    DisAgree [26] Agree [8] Reply Report Abuse

  • William Kenny, Scotland

    Thu, Jul 23 2015

    Agree.
    Although the use of white coats presents a nice image scrubs are more practical and hygienic for doctors. They are easily cleaned, comfortable and if colour coordinated can still be used to identify doctors from other roles within a hospital.

    DisAgree Agree [1] Reply Report Abuse

  • Rich, UK

    Thu, Jul 23 2015

    Very informative article. Strongly agree, but this should be a first step towards much better and broader sanitation in all hospitals worldwide.

    DisAgree Agree Reply Report Abuse

  • S Lobo, Udupi/DXB

    Thu, Jul 23 2015

    Please promote HYGIENE,SANITATION/ CLEANLINESS FIRST instead of banning White Coats!!
    This article sounds very illogical and pointless!

    DisAgree Agree Reply Report Abuse

  • Vicky D, Dubai

    Wed, Jul 22 2015

    All Indian Doctors should wear saffron coats! Wearing white coat is western tradition!! cool down..Just kidding!!!

    Earlier only Doctors used to wear white coats & had great respect for the person wearing it but now most professions use white coats including Saloon parlors,Massage parlors, optical shops, even butchers!

    There should be some kind of dress code or ID card to differentiate doctors from patients..

    DisAgree Agree Reply Report Abuse

  • Paul, Brazil

    Wed, Jul 22 2015

    i totally agree with Dr.Edmond it is good and your view are good if everyone follow will be better for the nation.
    well don

    DisAgree Agree Reply Report Abuse

  • Langoolacharya., Belman/Washington,DC.

    Wed, Jul 22 2015

    People,

    I am of the opinion that doctors should not wear any clothes while performing sophisticated operations...

    What say you Bhandumaam???

    ...JH...

    DisAgree [4] Agree Reply Report Abuse

  • Charles D'Mello, Pangala

    Wed, Jul 22 2015

    Dr. Edmond Fernandes is right.

    DisAgree Agree [2] Reply Report Abuse

  • francis, dubai

    Wed, Jul 22 2015

    i think white coats manufacturer giving less commission.That s why they want to ban.

    DisAgree [34] Agree [14] Reply Report Abuse

  • Dr.seth, london

    Thu, Jul 23 2015

    yes i agree totally coat should bank all private places, people who think neg god should help

    DisAgree Agree [1] Reply Report Abuse

  • Roy, Mlorw

    Wed, Jul 22 2015

    If you have malaria they'll say malaria.. N I don't think they would just tell its a malaria without confirming with blood tests.. Incase if you really had malaria n your doctor said it's just regular fever then??

    DisAgree [4] Agree [5] Reply Report Abuse

  • RAM, Mangalore / Bahrain

    Wed, Jul 22 2015

    21st Century's NEW Re-Search...!!!???

    DisAgree Agree [20] Reply Report Abuse

  • KRPrabhu, B'luru

    Thu, Jul 23 2015

    Edde aapina baaleda *ee toonaga gottapundu ge! ancha onji gaade yaan kende!!!
    Yenchina onji galk merna moned marayare!!!

    DisAgree Agree Reply Report Abuse

  • Simon, M'lore/UK

    Thu, Jul 23 2015

    What is the reason behind white court???? what deference dos it make

    DisAgree Agree Reply Report Abuse

  • Aubb, Kuwait

    Wed, Jul 22 2015


    It is better to focus on the over all hygiene level in Indian hospitals first, which in my opinion doesn't exist even in expensive hospitals.

    Doctors use repeatedly the same instruments used to examine the mouth of patients without in consideration, as most of them themselves have poor hygiene levels at home.

    DisAgree [2] Agree [21] Reply Report Abuse

  • KRPrabhu, B'luru

    Wed, Jul 22 2015

    I have seen in Mangalore's biggest hospitals Doctors wondering in the corridor in OT uniform and same foot wear!!!really very serious matter.....but who cares?

    DisAgree Agree Reply Report Abuse

  • Ravi Posavanike, Mangaluru

    Wed, Jul 22 2015

    Good observation Edmond. Nice article.

    DisAgree [4] Agree [96] Reply Report Abuse

  • Munna, nitte/karla

    Wed, Jul 22 2015

    Students, doctors all same, wearing dirty white coat even in sopping malls, fish markets. Institutions should ban using the coat outside their premises.

    DisAgree [2] Agree [126] Reply Report Abuse

  • Dr. Ben Rebello, Mangalore / Sunkasale

    Wed, Jul 22 2015

    FANTASTIC IDEA Dr. FERNANDES,

    I FULLY SUPPORT YOUR VIEW

    When I was working in Germany we banned Doctors wearing White Coats and entering sensitive areas like Operation Theater, Recovery Room, I.C.U., and even the Canteen.

    Then our Infection Control Officers used to take surprise checks and take swabs for Microbiology from doctors coats and ties they wore and issue a warning if found contaminated.

    This is in a place where the Uniforms were regularly Laundered by the hospital laundry by submitting them to very high temperatures and there were sufficient rooms to store them and personal had changing rooms.

    Similarly Jean pants were also banned for personnel inside the hospital.

    In Mangalore I have seen Medicos with white coats traveling on their 2 wheelers through the roads (particularly in front of womens colleges ) thus catching all the organisms from the dusty and filthy roads and even going to fish market with white coats! (To impress the fisher folks ? )

    DisAgree [3] Agree [144] Reply Report Abuse

  • Rudolf Rodrigues, Mumbai

    Fri, Jul 24 2015

    With due respect to your views, If that is the case why is there so much higher incidence of hospital acquired infections like 'necrotizing fascitis' many of which do not respond to the latest anitibiotics in advanced countries!!

    Also, while on the subject of cleanliness, a Florida student found that the ice at fast food restaurants is actually dirtier than the flushed toilet water at the same establishment!!

    The whole aim should be to spruce up the immune system at all times with emphasis of micro-nutrients in the diet and the all important sunshine Vit D!! In a study conducted in major Mumbai Hospitals, majority of the staff were deficient in the all important hormone Vit D which indirectly contributes to immunity getting weak and acquiring of infections!!

    It is an irony that in modern medicine nobody ever talks of prevention, the best of which is by sprucing up the immune system rather over emphasis is placed on cleanliness with dangerous chemicals like triclosan and other powerful chemicals etc. etc. which are actually harmful to health!!

    Decades ago when we were using charcoal and salt to brush our teeth major MNC came and told us that toothpaste is better and weaned us away, and now after a full cycle the same MNC places advts. saying whether your toothpaste has salt and charcoal, what an irony!! Also why modern medicine is talking about in 'hygiene hypothesis'!!!

    DisAgree Agree [3] Reply Report Abuse

  • abdulla, india

    Wed, Jul 22 2015

    why only white coats?
    look at the pollution in environment...dust/dirt.
    -Garbage.
    -Check your hospital.toilets..
    taps..wash rooms..
    the floors..
    -take swab of the atmosphere in every room..the reception to toilets .
    take swab of all category of the staff..from the top doctor to the help..
    vehicles..steering..seats..
    -operation theaters.. hospital beds.
    -the laundry machine .
    from A to Z ..do some in depth analysis and write comparison:
    ex: in Sweden/japan vs India.
    this could be a project by itself but worth it.
    -instead of white coats what color do you recommend fro doctors and other crew?
    If the people could see the Bacteria with naked eyes. then things would be different...isnt it..
    Indians have to e taught HYGIENE..SANITATION..BODY ODORS from KG...childhood ageat home /schools..
    from dust you come and to dust you go back..
    all that matters is your simple breath of life.
    lead it well..
    there is lot more..we need to learn from the basics.

    DisAgree [6] Agree [67] Reply Report Abuse

  • MILAN, DXB

    Wed, Jul 22 2015

    SOME DOCTORS WHITE COAT REALLY STINKS. NOT WASHED FOR A VERY LONG TIME I GUESS.

    GOING TO DOCTORS TO CURE ONE DISEASE. U MIGHT GET OTHER DISEASE

    THAT'S HOW THEY MAKE BUSINESS.

    MOST OF THE DOCTORS IN MANGALORE ARE ONLY FOR MAKING MONEY. DONT CARE FOR PATIENTS.

    IF U HAVE SLIGHT FEVER. DOCTOR WILL SIMPLY SAY U HAVE MALARIA. THIS REALLY HAPPENED

    DisAgree [3] Agree [100] Reply Report Abuse

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