Friday, May 24, 2013

Infectious Doctors: The stethoscope and the white coat

Should we really wear stethoscopes around our neck while on street? There are sufficient infectious agents looming about in our premises (in different forms, indeed, some walk, others fly, some inanimate); so is there a need to drag extra ones from the road? I think it would be better to avoid stethoscopes while you walk to a bus stop, or the Indian Coffee House!
With regard to the white coat, opinions vary though! More than serving as a source of infection, the thick white status symbol drenches poor docs in sweat in our mostly-non-air conditioned hospital. But it definitely is a blunder to wear a white coat all the way from home to the hospital, or whenever you are out of the hospital, be it a walk from the college building to the hospital. The public, I feel, have every right to question any medic or paramedic they find on road wearing a white coat. We are already part of a heavily compromised set up. Why should a doctor (or a paramedic) stroll around, ‘imbibe’ all the dust on to his coat and walk into the hospital?

Here's an excerpt from a BMJ article: 

History of the white coat

Doctors adopted the white coat in the mid-19th century to restore credibility to a profession that had been damaged by scientists, who had proved that many doctors’ remedies were worthless. Looking to associate themselves with science, doctors adopted the lab coat as a sign that they could be trusted to provide cures that were effective and backed up by the latest empirical thinking. Although lab coats were originally beige, doctors decided to choose white because it represented purity, holiness, and cleanliness. Hospitals were becoming places of healing rather than places that people went to die, and the white coat symbolized this.


Microbial flora on doctors' white coats