Effect Measure

Sometimes it can be hard to read the scientific literature without peering through the lens of one’s own prejudices. That said, I must agree with this:

Malaysian doctors have declared neckties a health hazard and called on the heath ministry to stop insisting that physicians wear them.

Citing studies that show ties are unhygienic and can spread infection, the Malaysian Medical Association says they are not often washed and carry germs that can cause pneumonia and blood infections, the Star newspaper said on Tuesday.

“And when doctors are doing their clinical rounds, they dangle all over the place,” the paper quoted association president Dr Teoh Siang Chin as saying.

But the Star quoted a ministry official as saying it needed more proof that neckties were a danger before it relaxed the dress code for doctors in hospitals. (Reuters)

I hope Reuters will forgive me for scarfing up their piece in toto. I don’t usually do that, bu I didn’t know where to cut it. Except maybe high up, near the collar.

In the interests of full disclosure, I routinely don’t wear a tie, mostly on the grounds a tie serves no purpose. I only wear one when the occasion calls for it as a sign of respect. I have observed that my pediatrician colleagues frequently wear bowties. I always assumed this was to prevent a necktie swinging, unbidden, into the infant’s crotch during exams. Or maybe some pediatricians are just nerdy, how knows?

The Malaysian health ministry wants proof a necktie is a hygiene hazard? How about proof a dress code that requires a necktie improves medical care? If that’s not the reason, then what is? Just asking.

Comments

  1. #1 crfullmoon
    May 3, 2007

    More proof? I thought somewhere (UK?) had tested ties for germs, quite a while back; this isn’t a new idea.

    And what happened to common-sense? Ties do get touched or touch all sorts of things, and, are with the doctor (and each patient) all day -ugh.

  2. #2 writangl
    May 3, 2007

    About those bow ties and pediatricians: Revere, don’t you remember when your own babies perfected their grasp? You didn’t want to get too close to those little hands if you wore glasses or sported long locks.

    A quick, two-fisted grab for the doctor’s swinging tie, an equally fast trip of that tie to the baby’s mouth…. Could wreck the good doctor’s concentration on the finer points of his exam in a flash. Not to mention giving his patient a hit of that dried-on lasagna he had for lunch.

  3. #3 Thom
    May 3, 2007

    I wonder if Brooks Brothers will come up with some FUD to try and kill this study and protect their products. Maybe they can hire the Weinberg Group to help?

    Seriously though, this is old news. This study pops up every couple of years because it’s just too cute for a journalist to pass up.

  4. #4 RPM
    May 3, 2007

    Do Doctors’ lab coats get washed?

  5. #5 ERV
    May 3, 2007

    That was my thought too, RPM.

    Im on a medical school/hospital campus, and I do NOT understand why it is acceptable for med students/docs to wear their lab coats outside of a hospital. I see em talking on their cell phones in caps and booties. Coming to seminars with face masks up on their heads like bandannas. wtf.

  6. #6 Melanie
    May 3, 2007

    For the record, it will be a cold day in hell when the reveres are ever seen in either a tie or a lab coat.

  7. #7 RPM
    May 3, 2007

    I was more thinking about transmitting crap from patient to patient the same way a tie might.

  8. #8 drcharles
    May 3, 2007

    good point. always a good strategy to turn the argument back on the attackers.

    patient satisfaction and professionalism are often cited as reasons to wear a tie. I wrote this post disproving those notions, as proven by a small study:
    http://scienceblogs.com/drcharles/2007/03/to_wear_scrubs_or_not_to_wear.php

  9. #9 mpb
    May 3, 2007

    Wasn’t there a study done, about the time of Dr Lister’s practice, that dress coats on surgeons and dangling just-in-time sutures contribute to loss in child-birth?

  10. #10 Frank Mirer
    May 4, 2007

    In my experience, neckties are never “washed;” if cleaned at all they are dry cleaned. A modest project of interest would be evaluating the effectiveness of dry cleaning in killing bacteria and virions.

  11. #11 SusanC
    May 4, 2007

    revere:

    I have observed that my pediatrician colleagues frequently wear bowties. I always assumed this was to prevent a necktie swinging, unbidden, into the infant’s crotch during exams. Or maybe some pediatricians are just nerdy, how knows?

    No, it’s called self-preservation. Unless you are into strangulation.

Current ye@r *