Doctors' neck ties and lab coats might be banned

Dr. Anil Singhal hasn't worn a tie to work in years and there is a reason.

"I've seen times where the neck tie gets in the way and gets potentially contaminated with blood, body fluids, nasal secretion, so I think it's a risk," says Anil Singhal, M.D., from the Rotacare Clinic.

The possibility of contaminating a patient is a risk Dr. Singhal isn't willing to take. And now with the rampant spread of H1N1, some in the medical community are wondering whether banning neck ties, will stop germs from spreading.

A recent study by a hospital in Queens tested the ties of 42 doctors. Half were positive for bacteria that could cause pneumonia and blood infections.

In some hospitals in the U.K., white labs coats are also banned because they're typically not washed daily.

ABC7 spoke with several hospitals in the area including Good Samaritan, Stanford, El Camino. None of them have specific guidelines in place about whether to wear lab coats or neck ties. They say it is up to the individual doctor to decide.

Dr. Jack Stauffer wouldn't show up for work without a lab coat and tie.

"It's a tradition in medicine and that's how I grew up in my career," says Jack Stauffer, M.D., from the Rotacare Clinic.

But he also takes extra precautions.

"I keep my tie tucked in behind my coat, I wash my coat after every evening in the clinic," says Stauffer.

Those at a clinic in Mountain View had mixed reaction to their doctor's attire.

"I'd rather them wear it so I can know if they're a doctor or not," says Viridiana Loza from Milpitas.

"I care more about just the physician practicing medicine than what they wear," says Bob Stahl from Santa Cruz.

The American Medical Association has not made a dress code recommendation, but a committee is looking into it.

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