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Can Your Doctor’s Clothing Can Get You Sick?

It’s a strange thought, but your doctor’s necktie may be harboring bacteria. A lot of it. And that bacteria may cause you to contract a cold, infection, or worse. Truly, the necktie is the most dangerous article of clothing a doctor could wear, and many researchers are suggesting that formal neckwear is not only unnecessary in a medical setting, but detrimental.

In an article which appeared in the October 25, 2012, issue of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Dr. Meghan Lane-Fall opines that neckties are hazardous, citing many studies to support her claim. Among the studies was a 2009 Israeli report which said that approximately half of the doctors included in the study were found to carry various disease-causing bacteria on their ties.

Furthermore, a more recent study by the Journal of Hospital Infection came to the conclusion that it is not only entirely possible but likely that a necktie will transmit bacteria to a patient.

But why are neckties harboring so much bacteria?

There are many reasons for this strange fact. A necktie hangs loosely in front of a doctor, who might idly touch or hold the tie during conversations with colleagues and patients, or adjust the tie periodically throughout his or her day.

Additionally, even with a tie clip, neckties dangle. If a doctor leans over a patient’s bed, for example, the tie might graze the bed sheets, picking up whatever bacteria is lying with that patient.

Also to consider is the fabric of a tie. Most neckties worn by doctors are silk, and it is unlikely that a silk tie will be voluntarily thrown into the laundry. It is then suggested that doctors have their neckties regularly dry cleaned. But how many times will the tie be worn before it is dry cleaned?

Remove Neckties from the Doctor’s Office

The answer here is to encourage doctors to take off the tie. Because doctors generally aren’t required to wear neckties — it is a matter of looking professional for patients. But it’s reasonable to say that most patients wouldn’t mind it if their doctors removed potentially bacteria-ridden clothing to maintain a safer, cleaner medical environment.

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