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Should doctors wear white coats again?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Dr. Sebastian, Apr 12, 2011.

  1. rwieselberg

    rwieselberg Active member

    Dec 27, 2013
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    Medicine Student / Young Leader in Diabetes
    São Paulo - Brazil
    Practicing medicine in:
    Well, being honest... Yes, we should.

    Not only as a symbol of our condition, but, also for safety reasons in general.

    Historically, "coats" have been used by doctors firstly as a protection against blood, urine, dirt and everything that could soil their clothes. During the Black Plague in Europe (Middle Age), the doctors used masks with spicy herbs in order to "avoid contamination" (myasmathic theories...) and coats - not white, really - to protect themselves against the dirt of floor, blood and feces - and, okay, against the rotten meat of deads, too.

    After, in the early Modern Age - 16th/17th centuries -, doctors used their white (yes!) coats with the same purpose: protect their own clothes and as a distinction symbol. Actually, the blood marks in the coat would show that the doctor was a "good one", because he had treated a lot of patients - from where the blook marks came from. The dirtier the coat, better the doctor.

    Okay, have you ever noticed that, until the 19th century, we haven't had nurses, physical therapists, or anything like this? Physicians, only. Nursery was "created" by Florence Nightingale in 19th century, but this is another story. Back to the white coats! :)

    After Louis Pasteur, Joseph Lister, Ignaz Semmelweis, Alexander Yersin and too many others' works about germs, contamination and cleanliness, the white coats were, from then on, seen as a distinction symbol - because only doctors used them - and as a symbol of purity and mostly because if something like blood or any body fluids fell on their coats, it would be seen quickly enough to enable the coat to be washed/changed in order to avoid the contamination of the doctor and other patients.

    Nowadays, we have nurses, nutritionists, even beautycare professionals, besides doctors, using white coats. This happens mostly due to the distinction symbol of being a "healthcare professional" - come on, this is a big status... - and to protect them from anything that could dirt them or infect them. We, doctors, use the white coats with the same objective, even if we don't deal with blood or any blood fluid, germs, or do lab research often.

    "Okay, smart guy. And how does we know that the guy is actually a doctor, and not a nurse or anything?"

    I'm not sure about other parts of the world, but, in Brazil, we have a tradition of putting in our white coats the symbol of the hospital/university that we work for/study. And, with this symbol, usually we put the name of the course/speciality. Following mine:

    [Broken External Image]:https://fbcdn-sphotos-h-a.akamaihd....x206/1506660_676102229100692_1609312784_n.jpg
    (Yes, this is my white coat sleeve LOL. If you don't speak Portuguese, it says "Medicine - Santa Casa - São Paulo (Holy House of São Paulo, our teaching hospital and school) and my class, the 50th one :p )

    Then, it becomes easy to anyone know if the guy is a doctor or anything.

    Finally, even if we don't want to think about protection or status, it is a matter of tradition. Something like black coats for lawyers, attorneys and judges.


    kalpana de alwis and Dr Felicia like this.

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