Should Doctors Wear White Coats?

This was the question asked of close to 500 people, including doctors, in a Royal Free Hospital, London survey. It seems that doctors tend to say no--they find their traditional white coats uncomfortable and a germ reservoir (they're harder to wash than scrubs), while patients still prefer them to be worn. More than twice as many patients as doctors felt that white coats should be worn. The most common reason given for this preference was that white coats made doctors easy to spot. Just 11 patients felt that the wearing of a white coat interfered with the doctor-patient relationship. So how many doctors actually wear white coats? Only one in eight of the doctors surveyed actually wore a white coat. As I wrote in one of my past articles, while I am not a big fan of wearing coats in the office (either white or a suit coat) I do believe a long-sleeve shirt and tie and a decent pair of shoes are a wise choice for male physicians.

Postgraduate Medical Journal May 2004;80:284-286

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