Concerned about picking up a nasty bug while in the hospital? Forget about whether your doctor washed his hands before examining you. Ask when he last dry-cleaned his tie.
Neckties worn by doctors can and do carry dangerous germs. It suggests a bedside visit by a well-dressed physician could be hazardous to your health.
The presence of bugs on ties suggests doctors aren’t washing their hands enough, or at the right times.
Here’s how it can happen: Doctors lean over and the tie touches one patient, then visit another and the ties touches that patient. A swinging neckties may come in contact with patient bedding, even patients themselves.
Earlier studies have found bacteria on everything from doctors’ stethoscopes to pagers and pens. Doctors now know to clean those items frequently. Shirts and lab coats are washed more frequently, sometimes as often as every time they worn.
Of the 42 physician neckties sampled at a prominent New York hospital, 20 contained one or more microorganisms known to cause disease.
So what’s the solution to the tie dilemma? The study coordinator recommends abolishing ties from clinical practice altogether. As a New Orleans physician who finds it uncomfortable to wear a tie much of the time, especially in the summer, I concur and will help promote his idea!