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Scrubs: Mass transit for bacteria?

Scrubs and white coats are once again being examined in an effort to reduce the spread of pathogens. Findings published in this month's issue of the American Journal of Infection Control offers additional evidence that health-care workers' uniforms may be carriers for germs that could be communicated from person to person.

In the study (subscription required), a team of researchers from Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem took cultures from the abdominal zone, sleeves and pockets of such uniforms. The participants also completed hygiene surveys. Booster Shots reports on their findings:

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.

Previously: NY bill proposes banning white coats, ties for doctors, Study finds docs' long-sleeved coats don't spread more bugs than bare arms, Hey, health workers: Washing your hands is good for your patients and Everything you ever wanted to know about hand hygiene
Photo by Medill DC

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