Medicine is steeped in tradition. Tradition can be good. Other times, not.
The reason providers wear white coats is of some debate. At most academic medical centers the white coat signifies status in the physician hierarchy (i.e., attendings wear long coats, interns wear short coats).
our own system will ban the white coat. All providers involved in patient care, no matter their role, will wear scrubs. We’re not opposed to tradition, we’re just in favor of practicality. However small the risk, if the white coat is worn every day and goes unwashed it can spread infectious disease.
Superbugs have been on the march (technically, since the beginning of time). Stories of MRSA were rampantly covered by the media a few months ago. VRE and LRE are around. Bugs have always been in the hospital. With new patients arriving daily (more like hourly), bugs will always be in the hospital.
It is our job to minimize the patient’s risk and exposure. Don then dump. Don the scrubs when you walk in, dump them in the laundry cart when you leave.
Principle #12: Scrubs for all. No more white coats. Or any other clothing from home for that matter to be worn while seeing patients. The small stuff matters—we must do all we can to ensure patient safety.