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Hospital polices dress code for defined roles, patient safety

Hospital polices dress code for defined roles, patient safety

By Karen M. Cheung

As the first Canadian hospital with such a policy, Ottawa Hospital in Ontario is implementing a dress code in which clinical professionals wear different outfits according to their role, and are required to wear scrubs and lab coats when they enter the hospital and take them off when they leave.

The dress code is aimed at patient safety, as well as identifying workers by clinical versus nonclinical roles, according to a Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) article.

The dress code, which took five years to develop, prohibits jeans, workout clothes, and revealing attire. "We wanted to make sure everyone is dressed professionally," said hospital spokesperson Allison Neill in the article.

According to the policy, employees will be sent home without pay for not abiding by the dress code. The dress code also includes the following clauses:

  • "Nail polish, if used, must be fresh and free of cracks or chips."
  • "Large tattoos, if visible, will be covered during working hours."
  • "Costume ‘dress up’ in celebration of a traditional holiday (i.e. Halloween) or ‘Friday jeans day for charity’ must be approved by VP."

Most institutions decide for themselves what the dress code will look like if one exists because there is no universal dress code.

The American Medical Association in 2010 found that there was little evidence to support the theory that sleeves can transmit illness.

To learn more:

– read the dress code policy (.pdf)

– read the CMAJ article

– see the AMA guidelines

Related Articles:

Outlawing ties and watches for the sake of patient safety

Physician fashion: Keep the coat, toss the tie

Fighting hospital infections by changing the dress code

Read more about: Scrubs, Dress Code Policy, Ottawa Hospital, Canadian Medical Association Journal