10 Tips to Combat Coronavirus 10 Tips to Combat Coronavirus

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Your Doctor's Lab Coat Is Likely Contaminated

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

contaminated lab coat

Story at-a-glance -

  • Long-sleeved white coats may be transmitting multidrug-resistant organisms, including Staphylococcus aureus and gram-negative nonfermenters; in response to research data, the British Medical Association banned lab coats, long sleeves, watches, jewelry and ties in patient care to reduce contamination
  • Some have resisted the removal of the white coat from a physician's attire in the U.S., believing it is a symbol of professionalism, and gathered data suggesting a patient's expectations and perceptions may improve patient satisfaction when white coats are worn
  • Overall, medical errors, including hospital acquired infections, are the third leading cause of death in the U.S. However, as measurement tools have serious limitations, researchers believe this number may be higher, leading a team from Johns Hopkins to request the CDC change data collection methodology as it may be incorrectly informing many research and public health priorities
  • Strategies to protect yourself and your loved ones include being a vocal advocate to reduce the likelihood mistakes are made, downloading and using the surgical safety checklist from the World Health Organization if surgery is scheduled, and insisting those caring for you wash their hands before contact

For some, simply seeing a physician in a white coat is enough to spike your blood pressure. This condition, known as "white coat hypertension" or "white coat syndrome," happens when the blood pressure readings in your physician's office are higher than they are in a different setting.

While it was once believed white-coat high blood pressure was triggered by stress from your doctor's appointment, some think it might be a signal you're at risk for high blood pressure as a long-term condition. To move away from the additional stress the sight of a white coat may bring to patients and their families, some doctors, such as pediatricians and psychiatrists, have stopped wearing them.


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