Hospital Dress Code Does Not Include Blue Suede Shoes

I saw an interesting item and wondered what people would think about it. It’s about the issue of dress codes for physicians. There’s an online study which was news story in USA Today about dress codes for health care personnel. It’s based on a article published in January 2014 [1].

I have a distant memory of a change in the dress code at our hospital being discussed about a year ago or so, basically incorporating the guidelines in the article cited. Nothing ever came of it that I know of. I don’t think it included blue suede shoes.

I’ve been wearing neckties and white coats since I was a medical student. I was not aware that neckties are full of microorganisms. Nor will I make a comment about a fact cited in the article–that 70% of men never launder their ties.

Usually I look like this:

Dr. Jim Amos redpantsredsox



OK, so usually I don’t wear red pants. I dressed differently today. See what you think.

Dr. Amos in scrubs

I make this look good.

Do I hear snickering? So most patients don’t think much about what their doctors wear in terms of the risk of spreading infections. But once they get an education about that factor, they seem to be receptive to a change in what doctors don.

I wonder if there’s an expectation for consulting psychiatrists to dress differently than internists. A colleague in my own department passed me in the hallway had this to say, “You even look like an ER psychiatrist! Why don’t you work there?”

She works in our ER. She doesn’t wear scrubs.

So what do you think, Door Number One or Door Number Two?

Dr. Jim Amos redpantsredsox

Door Number One

Dr. Amos sitting in scrubs

Door Number Two












1. Bearman, G., et al. (2014). “Healthcare personnel attire in non-operating-room settings.” Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 35(2): 107-121.
Healthcare personnel (HCP) attire is an aspect of the medical profession steeped in culture and tradition. The role of attire in cross-transmission remains poorly established, and until more definitive information exists priority should be placed on evidence-based measures to prevent healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). This article aims to provide general guidance to the medical community regarding HCP attire outside the operating room. In addition to the initial guidance statement, the article has 3 major components: (1) a review and interpretation of the medical literature regarding (a) perceptions of HCP attire (from both HCP and patients) and (b) evidence for contamination of attire and its potential contribution to cross-transmission; (2) a review of hospital policies related to HCP attire, as submitted by members of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) Guidelines Committee; and (3) a survey of SHEA and SHEA Research Network members that assessed both institutional HCP attire policies and perceptions of HCP attire in the cross-transmission of pathogens. Recommendations for HCP attire should attempt to balance professional appearance, comfort, and practicality with the potential role of apparel in the cross-transmission of pathogens. Although the optimal choice of HCP attire for inpatient care remains undefined, we provide recommendations on the use of white coats, neckties, footwear, the bare-below-the-elbows strategy, and laundering. Institutions considering these optional measures should introduce them with a well-organized communication and education effort directed at both HCP and patients. Appropriately designed studies are needed to better define the relationship between HCP attire and HAIs.


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