Doctors told to loosen up in the interests of hygiene

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According to the prestigious British Medical Association (BMA), doctors should abandon wearing ties and traditional white coats to work because they could harbour deadly hospital superbugs.

The BMA, which represents three-quarters of the country's doctors, are urging doctors to abandon neckwear, as ties perform no beneficial function in treating patients and, as they are rarely washed, they are a potential breeding ground for disease.

The BMA says ties could contribute to the spread of fatal superbugs, such as MRSA.

Microbiologists say a dirty tie can host a range of nasty bugs and without regular cleaning, these organisms can survive for up to 80 days which raises the risk of MRSA spreading.

Apparently tests on doctors' ties in an orthopaedic unit in Sussex found that all were carrying bugs frequently found in the infected wounds of patients.

The recommendation follows an investigation by the BMA's Board of Science into the dramatic rise of Healthcare Associated Infections (HCAIs).

The report says high bed occupancy rates, the increasing movement and turnover of patients, and poor standards of hygiene in healthcare settings, all contribute to the spread of HCAIs.

The BMA says in Britain alone, as many as 5,000 people every year are killed by hospital infections such as MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus), costing the state-funded National Health Service as much as 1 billion pounds a year.

The BMA says washing hands properly was the most important action medical staff could take to help stop the spread of the so-called superbugs.

Dr Vivienne Nathanson, the BMA's head of ethics and science, says people people touch their ties and wear them for a long time and the potential danger has to be recognised.

Other experts are doubtful and say a tie would have to be "heavily contaminated" for it to pose a serious health risk.

The British, possibly more than many others, is traditionally a tie wearing nation and as many as 29 million ties are sold there every year.

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