UCL News


UCL in the News: Doctors are scrubbing up their image

19 September 2007

In an attempt to stop the spread of MRSA, the NHS is to ban the white coat.

From next year, doctors must adopt a more hygienic "bare below the elbows" look. …

The white coat has been firmly on the doctor's back since the late 19th century, when the English surgeon Joseph Lister brought about a revolution in hygiene. …

"Before Lister, doctors would march straight into the ward from postmortems in blood-spattered frock coats," says Dr Carole Reeves of the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL. "But the white coat has always been a psychological barrier. Doctors have always known it didn't stop a single germ in its tracks, but it gave them status." …

Kate Carter, 'The Guardian'