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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 June, 2003, 23:59 GMT 00:59 UK
Doctors' ties 'spreading disease'
Doctors are urged to consider wearing shorter ties or bow ties
Doctors are being urged to stop wearing neckties in hospital.

It follows fears that the humble male accessory may be putting patients at risk of disease and infection.

Doctors attending a British Medical Association conference on Friday will call on medics to ditch their ties.

They believe ties may carry bacteria and bugs which doctors may be inadvertently passing onto patients.

Spreading disease

Members of the BMA's junior doctors' committee in Scotland will tell the conference that there is no reason for doctors to wear neckties while seeing patients.

They will suggest that there are in fact many reasons why they shouldn't.

Research has suggested that ties can carry bacteria
Mr Jim McCall, BMA

They believe that doctors may pick up bacteria if their ties brush against patients' skin or wounds when they are carrying out examinations.

That bacteria may then be passed onto other patients in subsequent examinations.

The doctors believe these risks are compounded by the fact that ties are often not washed regularly enough.

"The UK has one of the highest rates of hospital acquired infection in Europe," said Mr Jim McCall, chairman of the Scottish junior doctors' committee.

"This motion aims to flag up that issue. Research has suggested that ties can carry bacteria."

Mr McCall, who mostly wears surgical scrubs, suggested doctors should consider wearing bow-ties or wearing much shorter ties to overcome the problem.

"It could set a whole new fashion trend," he told BBC News Online.

Hand hygiene

However, Professor Robert Platt, president of the Infection Control Nurses Association, suggested doctors would be better concentrating their efforts elsewhere.

"If doctors are worried about spreading infection with their ties, then they should consider wearing bow ties, washing their ties regularly or not leaning over patients when they are wearing ties.

"But I think they should be more worried about washing their hands before and after they examine patients," he told BBC News Online.

"This is how patients are becoming infected in hospital. I would be more concerned about doctors and nurses not washing their hands. That is just completely unacceptable."

The junior doctors conference will also include debates on the proposed new contract for consultants, hospital accommodation and the length of trainees' working week.

Doctors 'cut corners' over hygiene
21 Jan 02  |  Scotland
NHS hygiene 'not up to scratch'
15 Jan 03  |  Health

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