Neckties harbor pathogens

Well .. I don't wear a tie at work.  I did wear one in medical school .. and probably my first few months of residency .. but pretty rarely since.  I just don't like 'em.   Now there is a study that demonstrates that physicians' neckties harbor pathogens.  They don't wash ties as they do the rest of their clothing .. and the ties come into contact with patients frequently .. and physicians' hands too .. (re) contaminating the hands after washing:


neckties worn by doctors were eight times more likely to harbor pathogens than were those of hospital workers not normally in contact with patients, according to the results of a new study.

While working at New York Hospital in Queens, lead author Steven Nurkin, a medical student at the American-Technion Program at the Bruce Rappaport Facility of Medicine in Haifa, Israel, noticed that physicians' neckties often come into contact with patients or their bedding.

After examining a patient or conducting procedure, he told Reuters Health, "they would wash their hands, and then adjust their tie," perhaps recontaminating their hands.

So he and his colleagues swabbed 42 neckties worn by physicians who regularly saw patients and 10 neckties worn by security personnel. They then dabbed the swabs onto laboratory plates and identified the microorganisms that grew.

Twenty of the clinicians' neckties carried pathogens, including Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Aspergillus. In contrast, the tie of only one security guard carried a single pathogen, S. aureus.

Nurkin pointed out that neckties are encouraged because they are believed to project an aura of professionalism and increase patients' confidence, but they may not be cleaned as often as other articles of clothing.

Options to reduce the risk of disease transmission, he suggested, include switching to bow-ties or using tie tacks that hold ties to physicians' shirts. Doctors could also decontaminate ties with a "high quality detergent spray that wouldn't ruin the tie" or even use a "necktie condom."

One thought on “Neckties harbor pathogens

  1. Hey, why stop with the ties? This nonsense about the “evils” of neckties has now reached its nadir. What about the shoes that well-dressed doctors wear? Lose those Italian loafers, doc – Brooks Brothers socks, too! Do your rounds in your bare feet! And if the tie is germ-ridden, what about those pinstriped suits? Strip off the Armani – you don’t know WHERE it’s been! Here’s a hospital gown! Now you’ll fit right in! The well-dressed doctor has been taken over. The slobs of thea world have won the day.

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