Don't blame the 'white coat'

02/27/2014 10:02 AM

02/27/2014 1:24 PM

Re "Reforms needed to curb `white coat silence,' improve patient care" (Health & Fitness, Feb. 27): Dr. Michael Wilkes' commentary makes little sense. Yes, bacteria will cling to a white coat. But there is no evidence that bacteria stick any less to a shirt, pants or other clothing worn by the physician. The problem is not the physician's dress, but whether he or she washes hands and upper arms before touching the patient.

Is communication between the patient and physician poor? Yes, not because of the white coat, but because new physicians are not taught to communicate with patients. That is the art of medicine sorely neglected in present day medical education. There is good evidence that most patients would rather bare their souls to physicians who are neatly and professionally dressed, than to someone who is unkempt and dressed casually. Don't blame the white coat.

-- Horst D. Weinberg, MD, Sacramento

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