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
Microbial flora on doctors' white coats http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1773186
The return of the white coat? http://careers.bmj.com/careers/advice/view-article.html?id=20001364