Intended for healthcare professionals


Study shows no difference in bacterial contamination of doctors’ wrists with short or long sleeves

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 16 February 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d1079
  1. Susan Mayor
  1. 1London

Doctors wearing long sleeved outfits have no greater risk of bacterial contamination around their wrists than those wearing short sleeves, according to a study of doctors working in a US hospital. The findings question NHS guidelines requiring doctors to be “bare below the elbows.”

The study randomly allocated 50 doctors working at Denver Health—a university hospital in Colorado—to wear freshly laundered, short sleeved uniforms and a further 50 to wear their own long sleeved white coats, which were infrequently laundered. Cultures were taken from the doctors’ wrists, cuffs, and pockets at the end of an eight hour day working in internal medicine departments.

Results showed no significant …

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