Why do physicians wear white lab coats? Boxy, plain and unisex, they are hardly a sartorial statement.

White Lab Coats – But they are functional. The big pockets can hold a stethoscope, ophthalmoscope, paper, pen and so on. The lab coat also protects clothes from a common on-the-job hazard, flying bodily fluids. It’s simple to change if soiled, and easy enough to launder.

Beyond the practical, what doctors wear is loaded with symbolism.

Clothing influences how we are perceived and how we perceive ourselves. The white lab coats screams out “official,” “brainy” and “in charge.”

It is, in the health-care setting, an outdated symbol of hierarchy. It is so 20th century.

A little history is in order.

The white lab coats first made its appearance in the late 1800s. Prior to that, lab coats were traditionally beige and worn in, well, laboratories. Doctors, like clergy, dressed in black to reflect the sombre nature of their work. Baseball Caps For Men

The end of the 19th century was a time of tremendous progress in public health and medicine, when the benefits of sanitation and clean water were recognized. In the hospital setting, antiseptics revolutionized care.

Prior to the germ-fighting era, physicians were largely indistinguishable from other quacks such as homeopaths and snake-oil salesmen. A medical-school degree could be obtained in a year, and there were few standards of good practice. Five Panel Caps

With the advent of germ theory, physicians strove to be more scientific in their practice and their dress. Medical schools also adopted a more rigorous and standardized curriculum.

The white lab coats embodied this new philosophy.

White is the colour of hope and the lab coat the symbol of the healer. Elementary School Uniform

Surgeons became the first to wear the white lab coats, followed by hospital doctors and then in-office general practitioners. By 1915, it had become the norm, though doctors doing home visits still dressed formally.

To this day, most medical schools have a “White Coat Ceremony,” where new students are solemnly presented with a short white coat at the beginning of their studies. When they graduate, they get a long white lab coats. (If you’re in a hospital coat, length is a handy way to identify the students.)

But the white-coat tradition is dying. T- Shirt

Only one in eight doctors now wears a white lab coats, according to a U.S. study. Some specialists, like pediatricians and psychiatrists, long ago gave up the uniform because it was seen as scary by their patients.

In fact, one of the reasons physicians have abandoned the traditional garb is that they feel the visual symbol of hierarchy impedes patient care.

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The American Medical Association voted Tuesday on a resolution that would recommend hospitals ban doctors’ iconic white coats, citing evidence that the garment contributes to the spread of infection.

White coats (The resolution was referred to a panel for further consideration.) * Indeed, a number of studies have shown that the coats harbor potentially harmful bacteria (and may cause “white coat hypertension”). If white coats are so bad, why do doctors still wear them? Badminton

Because a white lab coat says “I am a scientific healer.” The knee-length coat in medicine crossed over from the laboratory sciences at the turn of the 20th century. Before that time, medicine was generally seen as the haphazard province of quacks and frauds, and physicians wore street clothes even in the operating room. As the field developed into a respected branch of applied science in the early 1900s, doctors adopted the costume of the laboratory as a way of bolstering their scientific credibility. Basketball For Men

In pre-white-coat times, physicians used primitive tools and techniques and had little formal training. (Medical school could be finished in a year.) Early doctors competed for legitimacy (and patients) with other healing arts like homeopathy and medical eclecticism. But the development of antiseptics and anesthesia, among other things, demonstrated the exceptional power of science to improve health. Doctors strove to become more scientific, in practice and in dress. The lab coat served both purposes by providing a (supposedly) sterile work environment and soothing patients with its air of scientific authority. The traditional lab coat was beige, but doctors adopted white because the color symbolizes life and purity. (In earlier times, doctors were more likely to wear black, in keeping with the high mortality rates seen at hospitals. The nuns who served as nurses often wore black habits.) By 1915, physicians working in hospitals had for the most part switched from street clothes to white coats and pants. Promotion Cap

With their scientific bona fides firmly in place, doctors today are divided on the white-coat question. Supporters say the coat instills docs with a humbling sense of responsibility and puts patients at ease, while detractors see it as an alienating symbol of medical hubris. More than 100 medical schools host “white coat ceremonies” where first-year med students are outfitted with shortened versions of the white coat, and the coats are ubiquitous at large teaching hospitals where they help differentiate between doctors and students. However, doctors in smaller hospitals and private practice are more likely to wear regular clothes. A recent study suggests that only 1 in 8 doctors actually sport a white coat at work. Perhaps the most ardent supporters of the garment are patients: In one study, 56 percent of those surveyed believed doctors should wear coats, compared with only 24 percent of doctors. (Elderly people tend to be most supportive of the white coat.) Another study found that patients were much more likely to trust a doctor if they were wearing a white coat than if they were in scrubs.

If hospitals followed the AMA resolution and banned the white coat, what would doctors wear? The Scottish National Health Service outlawed white coats in 2008 and instituted a uniform of color-coded scrubs for all medical personnel. The Mayo Clinic doesn’t allow white coats; their doctors wear business attire.

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