Physicians go a week or more between washing their white coats, survey finds

About one-third of attending physicians and residents in a New York hospital said they wore their white coats for a week or more before washing them, a new survey found.

The survey, conducted at Lincoln Hospital in New York City and published in the American Journal of Infection Control, includes responses from 62 attending physicians and internal medicine residents.

Four survey findings:

1. Thirty-six percent reported wearing their white coats for seven to 14 days before washing them, and 21 percent said they wore their white coats for more than 14 days before washing them.

2. Only 14.8 percent put their white coats through the laundry every three days or fewer.

3. More than half reported only owning one white coat.

4. Seventy-nine percent reported being unaware of 2014 Society of Healthcare Epidemiology of America recommendations on white coat laundering, which says white coats ideally should be washed daily or at least once a week.

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