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ACS Lays Out Attire Guidelines for Surgeons

By Alexandra Wilson Pecci  
   August 16, 2016


In addition to reflecting patients' preferences for a professional manner of dress, the attire guidelines for surgeons also incorporate concerns over quality of care and patient safety.

Wearing soiled scrubs in front of family members, letting surgical masks dangle, and leaving large sideburns uncontained during surgery are all no-nos for surgeons, according to a statement from the American College of Surgeons on professional attire for surgeons.

"The whole idea is to support professionalism on behalf of patients," says ACS Executive Director David B. Hoyt, MD, FACS.

The guidelines, which the ACS says were developed based on "based on professionalism, common sense, decorum, and the available evidence," were issued to get consensus and standardization about dress codes, which can vary from organization to organization.

Underwear, Tattoos, and Patient Safety

Some health systems are much stricter than others.

"There's a lot of confusion as to what is out there and what is being assessed. We felt it was very important to create a document that tries to evaluate everything and put it into perspective," Hoyt says. "This is what the surgical community feels is appropriate and best practice."

Such dress codes aim to ensure that physicians look professional, which research shows is important to patients: Data aggregated from 30 studies found that most patients prefer physicians in professional attire.

As defined within the study, professional attire is "a collared shirt, tie and slacks for male physicians and blouse (with or without a blazer), skirt, or suit pants for female physicians."

Professional attire is linked with perceptions of trustworthiness and respect, as well as improved patient satisfaction.

Physicians' Attire Linked to Patient Satisfaction Rates

In addition to addressing patient perceptions, the attire guidelines for surgeons also aim to address quality and safety.

Alexandra Wilson Pecci is an editor for HealthLeaders.

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