Docs May Have Trick Up Their Sleeves Fighting Germs

From Drugs.com - October 6, 2017

Docs May Have Trick Up Their Sleeves Fighting Germs

FRIDAY, Oct. 6, 2017 -- With antibiotic-resistant "superbugs" continuing to be a threat in U.S. hospitals, doctors are looking for innovative ways to cut down on disease transmission.

Now, research suggests one solution may be within arm's reach -- literally.

Physicians' white coats with sleeves above the elbow were much less likely to have traces of infectious viruses on them than long-sleeved versions, the study found.

"These results provide support for the recommendation that health care personnel wear short sleeves to reduce the risk for pathogen transmission," concluded a team led by Amrita John. She's an infectious disease specialist at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland.

According to the team, "physicians' white coats are frequently contaminated, but seldom cleaned."

For that very reason, the United Kingdom already mandates that doctors be "bare below the elbows" as a means of lowering the chance that germs on a dirty coat sleeve will be transmitted to a patient.

But is sleeve length really a factor in the transmission of infections?

To find out, John's group had health care workers wear either short- or long-sleeved white coats while examining a mannequin with surfaces that had been contaminated with a harmless-but-communicable virus.

The workers then went and examined a second mannequin -- replicating normal hospital "rounds" where doctors might visit numerous patients.

The researchers then tested both the sleeves and the wrists of each worker for a certain "DNA marker" that indicated the presence of the virus.

The result: "contamination with the DNA marker was detected significantly more often on the sleeves and/or wrists when personnel wore long- versus short-sleeved coats," the researchers reported.

In fact, while virus was detected on none of the sleeves or wrists of 20 workers wearing the short-sleeved coats, it was found on one-quarter (five out of 20) of those donning long sleeves.


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