News Online: Doctor wants to ditch dirty ties

Published online at on January 18, 2011.

Linda Hoang, Global News: Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Doctor wants to ditch dirty ties

A local doctor is urging physicians to ditch the neck ties at work because of concerns of bacteria build up.

Dr. Adrian Wagg works at the University of Alberta Hospital and comes from the United Kingdom, where there’s been a no-tie policy in effect for years now.

“There’s been some microbiology studies showing that there’s bacterial contamination with neckties,” Wagg said on Tuesday. “We’re recommending people dispose of their necktie.”

Ties aren’t often cleaned and can act as a potential bacteria transmitter as doctors make their rounds with patients.

It’s something Wagg, who is a professor of healthy ageing and divisional director for geriatric medicine, has even taken to his classrooms.

“I’ve been trying to educate my students and my junior staff on why I dress like I do when I’m with patients,” he said.

Along with dirty ties, Wagg says many doctors in the U.K. have also stopped wearing the traditional white coats associated with the profession.

“There’s lots of evidence to show that if you’ve got a white coat or short sleeves or jacket, you don’t wash your hands as efficiently as you would if you’re bare below the elbows,” he said.

Despite bacteria, surveys in the U.K. indicate that patients still prefer their doctors in formal attire.

But Wagg says the case may be different in Canada and here in Edmonton where patients may feel more comfortable with doctors dressed casually.

He adds that if it will help decrease spread of infection, then why not do it.

“If it’s avoidable, why not avoid it.”

Click here to read the article on the Global Edmonton website.

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