Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Should nurses always be 'bare below the elbows'?

  • Comments (24)

Should healthcare professionals always be ‘bare below the elbows’? Are long sleeves an infection risk?

 

Expert comment:

“Although there is a limited evidence base around the ‘Bare below the elbows’ directive I feel it is a common sense approach for both patients and staff. For example although making the link between transmission of potentially pathogenic organisms from jewellery, long sleeves etc may be difficult, jewellery can be a potential health and safety risk to both patients and staff. Stoned rings or watches can tear personal protective clothing such as gloves and can also scratch a patient during a care procedure. Long sleeves can also become contaminated with bodily fluids. In addition both make effective hand decontamination difficult where there is an evidence base about associated risks.”

Julie Hughes is a nurse consultant in infection control at 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust - a specialist provider of mental health and learning disabilities services. She is also a Lecturer at the University of Chester.

What do you think?

  • Comments (24)

Readers' comments (24)

  • GavinW

    yes all staff should be bare below elbow to reduce the spread of infection, this includes consultants!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous

    we are always bare below the elbows for any patient care, dressings, etc. but in winter and on nights we wear cardigans and/or t-shirts under uniform when cold. if we are just doing a short round with no patient contact we cardigans on if needed.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • As long as hospitals and health services insist upon keeping such cold temperatures, I will have to wear long sleeves. I pity my patients who feel my cold hands some days. There is no proof cold temperatures reduce infection. In fact, it is poor service for our patients to feel chilled. We'd be helping the budget as a bonus.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • i agree with the temperature part, i work in triage and often it is very cold, i have on occasion been given permission to wear a cardigan but it isnt guareented, i must add that i am not doing any procedures on pts at the time

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous

    why would you have to get permission to wear a cardigan and who from? isn't it your own thermostat and the tasks that you are carrying out which are the determining factors?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Natalie Jewell

    I've vaccinated in some schools with drafty halls and I've been known to sit there in a hat as I suffer in the cold. Yes it is recommended that we are bare below the elbows but in some environments I work in we are allowed 3/4 length sleeves. We take infection control very seriously but staff comfort needs to be considered too. Mind you - I am not working with sick people which alters the risk factors somewhat.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous

    the nhs hasn't changed. staff are still treated like those in the military and even told when they are hot or cold and need permission to wear cardigans or t-shirts. of course management are mature adults and always know best even though they may not have studied physiology and know nothing about another human beings internal temperature regulating centre!

    until professionals are allowed to think for themselves and exercise their right to professional autonomy, for which they qualified and registered, standards will never improve - it is fundamental.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I have to take the opposite view to many on here. I agree with bare below the elbow for every clinical staff member, it makes it easier to 'scrub' up as it were and reduces infection control. However, unlike many on here, I like it. I have worked in many places where the temperature has been uncomfortably hot and stuffy, especially in the summer months, were there is no fresh air because of no open windows, etc. Staff have even begged to wear scrubs! So if the opposite is true on a particular ward, surely it would be better to demand heating rather than wear sleeves?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous

    To be honest, in these days of cost versus effectiveness, it may boil down to the cost of heating and air conditioning versus the cost of treating infections...sad but true. Where is the patient in this, they aren't!

    I am still a great believer in the human race developing their immune system naturally. We are currently still a global victim of overuse/misuse of antibiotics.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous

    mike | 20-Jul-2011 3:59 pm

    men don't wear cardigans and may not even have the same thermostatic control as women!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Show 102050results per page

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment.

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.