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Dress code “potentially dangerous”

Doctors have warned that a new dress code for NHS staff which bans wristwatches could be potentially dangerous for hospital patients.

Back in September, UK Health Secretary Alan Johnson outlined a series of measures which were designed to limit the spread of hospital-acquired infections such as Clostridium difficile and MRSA.

Included in the plans, which are due to be implemented later this month in all acute trusts, is a new “bare-below-the-elbows” dress code, which will mean staff will no longer be able to wear watches on hospital wards.

Now two medics have written a letter to the British Medical Journal criticising the decision.

James Henderson, a specialist registrar in plastic surgery at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital NHS Trust, and Sarah McCracken, a specialist registrar in geriatric medicine at Ipswich Hospital, said doctors need a second hand to check pulses and respiratory rates.

They cited a study of 20 staff, looking at their ability to calculate pulse and respiratory rate without the use of a second hand. Only one person gave values for each reading that “would not have been potentially dangerous in a clinical setting”.

They wrote: “This study highlights the necessity for doctors to have sight of a second hand when assessing patients, especially in emergency situations where a clock might not be present.”

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British Medical Journal

Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)

“Have either of these two doctors ever heard of a fob watch?” – Name and contact details supplied

“Why not use special clocks like nurses at their chest pockets? Or is this only a matter of image?
Yota Lazarou, University General Hospital, Athens, Greece