Re-imagine the doctor’s coat

29.09.2009 http://www.dotkite.eu/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/Post02.jpg

In a hospital, a doctor’s coat may seem the most safe and comfortable object, and to many of us it symbolizes purity and cleanliness. However, not many people realize that it may also be a very dangerous one, as it is indicated that the uniforms may be among the most contaminated objects; a walking vehicle of pathogens.

Current uniforms do their job; they just need to be cleaned regularly. In this resides a challenge, since an indicated majority of doctors don’t wash their coats more frequently than every two weeks. In essence,the product disrupts their current workflow. Disadvantages outweigh the advantages of cleaning the uniform; nobody will even notice. Of course, it is logical to investigate anti-bacterial fabrics and optimized laundry systems.

Yet, isn’t a coat more than just a barrier between patient and doctor? It is also an object of status, trust and professionalism, but at the moment only the colour resembles this aspect as there are no further embedded qualities.

It is intriguing that while more advanced products entered the doctors environments, their uniforms remained the same. Every doctor has a pager (beeper), mobile telephone etc. Looking into the current possibilities of wearable electronics, can’t we re-think the uniform? Embedding a pager in its sleeve, so we don’t contaminate it anymore by touching it. Making sound recordings by a microphone in its collar, so we no longer have to deal with unclearly written doctors’ notes. A truly magical coat for both the doctor and the patient. And what is wrong by making it a bit more fashionable?

Make the coat an object a doctor would actually love to care about. Like a business man’s suit; something to treat with dignity. Wouldn’t that be the doctor’s coat we truly desire?

posted  1 comment to “Re-imagine the doctor’s coat”

  1. An interesting question indeed.

    I believe there are two ways to take this: You could increase motivation for cleaning, by increasing the doctor’s affection for the coat as your say. Another way would be to try and increase the ability to clean, by making the task easier to perform.

    For instance, cleaning the coat could be a weekly ritual, throwing a dirty coat into a washing machine once a week, and retrieving a clean coat the day after. Interestingly, this could imply that the coat should be designed to be more expendable, not less.

    Maybe a combination of the two is also possible? Simplifying the cleaning ritual while at the same time motivating the doctor to care and clean his garment?

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