If hospitals adopt new dress code recommendations, physicians and nurse practitioners would have to hang up their white coats, literally. New guidance released by the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) recommends physicians and NPs hang their coats on hooks while examining patients and wash their coats at least once a week using hot water and bleach. The precautions are designed to prevent the spread of infections such as MRSA and C. diff. White coats are not the only items mentioned in the report. Wrist watches, neck ties, and jewelry were also named as potential infection-spreading items that should not be worn by healthcare providers. The report is not the first time infection control efforts targeted providers’ wardrobes. In 2011, lawmakers in New York proposed legislation that would prohibit providers from wearing neck ties as well as any clothing below the elbow, including the iconic white coat. Providers typically push back against such wardrobe restrictions, saying more casual dress would reduce patients’ confidence in their provider. SHEA acknowledges that patients express a preference for formal attire, including a white coat, but says, “patient comfort, satisfaction, trust, and confidence in their physicians is unlikely to be affected by the practitioner’s attire choice”. The authors also say that when patients are told about the infection risks of certain attire, they are more willing to change their preferences. However, that risk is up for debate. A member of the SHEA guidelines committee told NBC News that there is no definitive link between provider attire and infections. He says the recommendations are based on the common sense theory that clean clothes are less likely to transmit pathogens. What do you think? Would a new dress code prevent hospital infections?