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NY Lawmakers Consider Doctor Dress Codes To Save On Med Mal Costs

Could what a doctor wears to work affect medical malpractice costs across New York State? Many safety advocates and medical professionals believe that it is so. Currently, the New York State Legislature is considering a bill that would examine what doctors and nurses wear while on the job and investigate whether dress codes could cut down on patient infections and medical malpractice incidents. Bill S4909, brought forth by democrat Senator Jeffrey Klein, would establish a Health Commissioner Council that would look into whether certain accessories or types of clothing could be causing infections in health care environments and establish best practices for moving forward.

Other countries around the world have already established similar best practices, including banning long-sleeved shirts, ties, jewelry, artificial nails, and even white lab coats for physicians and nurses. In some countries, ID tags are also considered an infection danger. However, some studies have shown that while traditional lab coats and sleeves do contain bacteria, they may not significantly raise the rate of infections in patients. Those who back these studies say that the New York law would be a waste of resources that would not translate to lowered medical malpractice costs. Others say that focusing on clothing and jewelry take emphasis away from what should be the real focus for doctors and nurses: hand hygiene.

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