Long sleeves do not harbor more bacteria

Maybe it’s time to roll down those sleeves.

According to a new study released Tuesday by a group of researches at the University of Colorado, long-sleeved hospital work wear contains no higher bacteria contamination levels than short-sleeved garments. The study, published in the Journal of Hospital Medicine, was prompted by new guidelines in the United Kingdom banning long-sleeved clothing—including physician’s white coats—due to the belief that long sleeves carry and transmit more bacteria than their short-sleeved counterparts.

For the study, the researchers randomly selected 50 physicians at Denver Health to wear short-sleeved uniforms, while another 50 simply wore their usual white coats. At the end of a normal eight-hour workday, cultures were taken from all of the subjects, and showed no significant differences in contamination levels between the two groups.

Additionally, the study found that the length of sleeves did not have an effect on the amount of bacteria on wrists of doctors.

Given this new data, would you prefer to wear more long-sleeved scrubs?



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4 Responses to Long sleeves do not harbor more bacteria

  1. Laurie

    Wow. Never thought long sleeves would be a problem. Good thing they’re not or some people might show too much skin claiming they harbor less bacteria. Good grief.

  2. Sarah

    I’d prefer short sleeves everytime, just makes it easier than trying to keep long sleeves out of the way everytime you want to wash your hands. Also due to the higher than average temperature on the ward short sleeves go some way to keep me cooler.

  3. Amanda

    I wonder if they make a difference in nurses who provide direct patient care?

  4. OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standards require dental workers to wear sleeves long enough to protect their forearms due to exposure to saliva and sprayed dental materials. I think I’d consider long sleeves too, if I was a nurse who may be exposed to similar situations. If this is an interest, we make long sleeved scrub tops at Sassy Scrubs, which allow long sleeves without the extra layer of a too-warm scrub jacket. This might help! :)