SGH staff roll up their sleeves - under new dress code for better hygiene

Staff at Singapore General Hospital (SGH), including Staff Nurse Eliz Michael Acedo Pelayo, strut their stuff down the catwalk on May 5, 2014. In conjunction with World Hand Hygiene Day, the SGH staff models showcases styles that can be implemented u
Staff at Singapore General Hospital (SGH), including Staff Nurse Eliz Michael Acedo Pelayo, strut their stuff down the catwalk on May 5, 2014. In conjunction with World Hand Hygiene Day, the SGH staff models showcases styles that can be implemented under a new policy launched by the Hospital. To improve hand hygiene when dealing with patients in SGH, healthcare staff are being asked to go bare below the elbows. Mr Pelayo is showing a wrong dressing with long sleeves, jewellery and lanyard. -- ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
Staff at Singapore General Hospital (SGH), including Staff Nurse Yeo Pei Wen Grace, strut their stuff down the catwalk on May 5, 2014. In conjunction with World Hand Hygiene Day, the SGH staff models showcases styles that can be implemented under a n
Staff at Singapore General Hospital (SGH), including Staff Nurse Yeo Pei Wen Grace, strut their stuff down the catwalk on May 5, 2014. In conjunction with World Hand Hygiene Day, the SGH staff models showcases styles that can be implemented under a new policy launched by SGH. To improve hand hygiene when dealing with patients in SGH, healthcare staff are being asked to go bare below the elbows. Ms Yeo is showing a correct dressing with short sleeves, hair bund, no watches, jewellery or lanyard. -- ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

More than 15 staff from the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) strutted their stuff on the catwalk on Monday - all in the name of hygiene.

They were showcasing styles approved under the hospital's new fashion policy for its staff. It was back to basics for them - doctors and nurses will have to roll up their sleeves and go bare below the elbows when they examine patients or come into contact with them. This minimises the risk of having their clothes collect germs.

Staff will also ditch their hanging lanyards for retractable ones issued by the hospital. Doctors who wear ties will have to wear tiepins and clip their ties to their shirts while examining patients.

"We want to ensure that ties and lanyards do not flap around when staff examine patients," said Dr Ling Moi Lin, director of infection control at SGH. "These objects can easily collect germs and bacteria - we do not want to carry them to other patients."

Staff cannot wear fancy jewellery, although simple wedding bands are permitted. Bracelets for religious purposes are allowed as long as they are pushed up towards the elbows when staff examine patients.

The new policy is part of the hospital's ongoing initiatives to improve standards of hygiene. Currently, it sends out observers to check if doctors and nurses comply with hygiene procedures such as sanitising their hands before and after touching patients. Staff are found to have complied with hygiene procedures 80 per cent of the time, thanks to hygiene champions to remind others about proper procedures.

Dr Ling hopes to reach a 90 per cent compliance rate next year. In June, the hospital will also start sending out e-competency tests to check staff's knowledge of hygiene procedures.

To drive home the message, SGH is also sending out a hand hygiene pushcart to its wards this weeks. The pushcart is equipped with a UV-light box which detects if staff sanitise their hands properly. This is done with the help of a special sanitiser that glows under UV light.

"It's a practical nudge to remind them to sanitise their hands property," Dr Ling said.