What not to wear in the ICU,

Modern Healthcare - - NEWS -

You get only one chance to make a first im­pres­sion, the say­ing goes. And, if that first im­pres­sion is made in an in­ten­sive-care unit, it could make the dif­fer­ence for physi­cians try­ing to es­tab­lish trust with a pa­tient’s fam­ily mem­bers in a short pe­riod of time.

That was the premise of a report writ­ten by Cana­dian re­searchers with the Univer­sity of Cal­gary and Al­berta Health Ser­vices and posted on the JAMA In­ter­nal Medicine web­site as a re­search let­ter. The au­thors sur­veyed peo­ple who had fam­ily mem­bers ad­mit­ted at three ICUs in Cal­gary, Al­berta, ask­ing what vis­i­ble char­ac­ter­is­tics were im­por­tant upon the first meet­ing with their fam­ily mem­ber’s doc­tor. The top an­swers among the 337 re­spon­dents were an easy-toread name tag, 77%; neat groom­ing, 65%; and pro­fes­sional dress, 59%. Far be­hind on the im­por­tance scale were ab­sence of vis­i­ble pierc­ings, 39%; wear­ing a white coat, 32%; and ab­sence of vis­i­ble tat­toos, 30%.

But, when se­lect­ing pre­ferred physi­cians from a set of pic­tures, most re­spon­dents (52%) chose the models wear­ing the tra­di­tional white coat; fol­lowed by physi­cians wear­ing scrubs, 24%; suits, 13%; and ca­sual at­tire, 11%.

Dr. Re­becca Lesto Shunk, with the San Fran­cisco VA Med­i­cal Cen­ter, summed up the find­ings in an ac­com­pa­ny­ing ed­i­to­rial.

“Maybe I am old-fash­ioned, but I think the dress and ap­pear­ance of health­care providers should demon­strate pro­fes­sion­al­ism and sup­port a se­ri­ous and sa­cred pact with our pa­tients,” Shunk wrote. “By dress­ing and ap­pear­ing pro­fes­sion­ally, we val­i­date the sig­nif­i­cance of the re­la­tion­ship, ac­knowl­edg­ing that we are not their barista, but a per­son to whom the pa­tient en­trusts their most pri­vate thoughts and con­cerns.”


Leave the scrubs and ca­sual at­tire at home. A re­cent study found a physi­cian in a tra­di­tional white coat was pre­ferred by fam­ily mem­bers of ICU pa­tients.

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