Much has been made of a decision in the United Kingdom to forbid the wearing of neckties in hospitals, claiming that these are a source of infections. Here's one such article.
Of course, I immediately asked our infection control people about this, seeing a potential opportunity to improve patient care and make life more comfortable for male doctors. Excerpts from their response:
The focus should remain on good hand hygiene and cleaning of equipment (especially stethoscopes) – all of which actually touch the patient. If health care workers cleaned their hands well immediately before touching a patient, it wouldn’t matter if their ties, white coats, palm pilots or pagers were colonized, since these things presumably have minimal contact with the patient, if any. Although all of these fomites have been shown in studies to become colonized, there has never been data proving transmission of infection to a patient. This topic comes up every year – it is a big distraction from the real issues. The CDC and SHEA (Society of Healthcare Epidemiology of America) agree with this stance.
Here is a quote I found about the CDC's view on the matter that supports this view, but I note that the 2004 article in which it is cited seems to head the other direction:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Guidelines for Environmental Infection Control in Health-Care Facilities state that, “although microbiologically contaminated surfaces can serve as reservoirs of potential pathogens, these surfaces generally are not directly associated with transmission of infections either to staff or patients. The transferal of microorganisms from environmental surfaces to patients is largely via hand contact with the surface.”
Sounds like some disagreement among the experts. Well, who knows? We started one revolution. Maybe the British will start another.