Strutting their stuff for good hygiene

Staff Nurse Yeo Pei Wen walking down the runway at the Singapore General Hospital, showcasing one of the approved styles under the hospital’s new dress code meant to promote good hygiene. The hospital also has hygiene champions who remind others of good practices.
PHOTO: Strutting their stuff for good hygiene

SINGAPORE - There were no slinky dresses or avant-garde threads. Instead, nurses and doctors in uniforms strutted their stuff on the catwalk at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) for 15 minutes on Monday.

It was all in the name of hygiene: They were showcasing styles approved - and disapproved - under the hospital's new dress code for its staff.

In fact, doctors and nurses will have to roll up their sleeves when they come into contact with patients. This minimises the risk of collecting germs on their clothes.

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.

Currently, SGH sends out observers to check if its staff comply with hygiene procedures.

Staff are found to comply 80 per cent of the time, thanks to hygiene champions who remind others. Dr Ling hopes to reach a 90 per cent compliance rate next year. Next month, the hospital will roll out electronic tests to check its staff's knowledge of hygiene procedures.

SGH is also sending hygiene pushcarts to its wards this week. With a hand sanitiser that glows under UV light, staff can see if they have sanitised their hands properly. "It's a practical nudge to remind them to sanitise their hands properly," Dr Ling said.

This article was published on May 6 in The Straits Times.Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.