home .Featured, Antimicrobials and Resistance, Infectious Diseases This story about naked surgery has no clothes …

This story about naked surgery has no clothes …

A University of Washington study found surgeons in the nude shed ‘significantly less bacteria than those wearing scrubs’, but admitted it was not likely to ever happen.

So – this DailyMail story certainly has a catchy headline: Surgeons can stop spread of germs by operating NAKED | Daily Mail Online.

Alas, the story is seriously overblown.  The story is based on a new paper coauthored by Dr Patchen Dellinger. This paper is a literature review examining prior studies on how clothing (or the lack of it) can impact transmission of microbes in a medical setting.  It has some quite useful parts but nowhere is there anything that says what the headline of this story says. For example, the paper does not recommend naked surgery.  And the paper also does not say doing surgery naked can reduce the spread of germs.  The paper is a good thought piece – but it does not present any new data or analysis and it does not claim what the Daily Mail article discusses.  Perhaps this is a case where the scientists made overstatements to the press, or perhaps this is a case of the Daily Mail not getting some of the details correct. Either way – it does not look like naked surgery should be coming to an operating room near you.


One thought on “This story about naked surgery has no clothes …

  1. Looking into this post was like a Russian doll of interesting gems! The paper that the Daily Mail picked up was a self-described “non-systematic literature search” paper. In that review, there was a study cited that showed naked men shed fewer Staph aureus than clothed men – and that study was done in the 70s. Classic. Then, when I checked out that 70’s paper, they indicated “dispersal might be controlled by the use of bacteria-proof material for the underpants only.”

    But on a practical level, it seems we’ve known for a while that particles are shed from clothing, and some of my and my colleagues’ work have recently explored this topic (references below). Besides suggesting naked surgeons, it would be great to know if researchers are pursuing more practical routes for limiting spread of infectious agents from the “perihuman environment.”

    Bhangar, Seema, et al. “Chamber bioaerosol study: human emissions of size‐resolved fluorescent biological aerosol particles.” Indoor Air 26.2 (2016): 193-206.
    Licina, Dusan, Yilin Tian, and William W. Nazaroff. “Emission rates and the personal cloud effect associated with particle release from the perihuman environment.” Indoor air (2017).

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