Healthcare professionals should consider a “bare below the elbows” approach of short-sleeved tops and foregoing a wristwatch, jewelry or ties, according to guidance released in late January from the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America.
The best-practice recommendations are meant for healthcare personnel working in non-operating room settings. Long-term care facilities were not the “major focus of the paper, but the rationale would apply,” Virginia Commonwealth University’s Gonzalo Bearman, M.D., MPH, told McKnight’s.
Other recommendations address footwear and laundering. Workers should wear closed-toe shoes with low heels and non-skid soles, SHEA urges. Clothing worn at patient bedsides should “optimally” be laundered after daily use, according to the guidance. Workers doing laundry at home should use a hot-water wash with bleach, followed with a cycle in the dryer or ironing, the document states.
Evidence connecting healthcare workers’ attire to the spread of infections is limited, the SHEA statement acknowledges.
Studies have shown that clothing worn by healthcare personnel may “play a role” in spreading pathogens, but the nature of that role has not yet been “well established,” according to Bearman.