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Praise for white-coat ban – but more needed to cut HAIs

A UK doctors’ leader has welcomed government guidelines aimed at cutting hospital-acquired infections, but warned that a more co-ordinated approach is needed.

Dr Vivienne Nathanson, head of science and ethics at the UK doctors’ professional body the British Medical Association (BMA), was commenting on a UK government announcement regarding new dress-code guidelines for health professionals.

She said: “The BMA is pleased that the government has taken on board many of the recommendations outlined in the BMA’s report on reducing hospital-acquired infections – for example, the call for doctors to stop wearing ties and white coats in hospitals and how it was preferable for clinicians to wear short sleeves.

“It is very important to emphasise, however, that clean hands, bare elbows and short sleeves are only one aspect of preventing and controlling infection.  

“A co-ordinated approach addressing all the relevant factors – for example, dress code, bed occupancy, hygiene in hospital and isolation policies – is most likely to be successful.”

She added: “We must also emphasise the importance of visitors using the antiseptic gels provided when they visit hospitals.

“Health professionals, patients and visitors all have a role to play in reducing hospital-acquired infections.

“In addition, any new guidelines on dress code must be practical, realistic and sensitive to different religious groups,” Dr Nathanson said.