Think your doctor's white coat is as clean as a whistle? It might not be. A study finds that dangerous germs could be lurking on nurses' and doctors' uniforms.
Researchers from Shaare Zedek Medical Centerin Jerusalem cultured three spots on the uniforms of 75 nurses and 60 physicians working in a 550-bed hospital. Potential pathogens (also known as infectious agents, or germs) were found on 63% of the uniforms, and antibiotic resistant bacteria were found on samples from 14% of nurses' uniforms and 6% of doctor's uniforms. Eight of those cultures grew methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, better known as MRSA.
No substantial differences were found between doctor and nurse uniforms or between staff from medical and surgical departments. However, the contamination rate with antibiotic-resistant pathogens was higher in clothes that were changed every two days versus every day. The study is published in the September issue of the American Journal of Infection Control.
Not washing hands frequently enough could contribute to the pervasiveness of bacteria, the authors wrote, adding that bacteria could be transmitted to patients by other means, not just through clothing. They also noted that although most doctors and nurses in the study thought of their uniforms as fairly clean, that wasn't always the case.