White Coats in Canteen – Why so sensationalised?

Recently in Stomp, the online portal of The Straits Times, was a concerned reader who sent in pictures of some medical students who wore their white coats to eat at the science canteen. The link is here, note the innocuous-sounding title that disguises the pure stupid that follows:

Can doctors’ coats and lab coats spread infection in canteen?

Before we go any further, let’s point out that the students in question, who are classmates of J., probably weren’t thinking when they did what they did. White coats and stethoscopes in the science canteen? Isn’t it very warm? So yes, the medical students involved are definitely at fault.

The Dean of Medicine has replied to STOMP:

NUS: Students in white coats not a health hazard but have been counselled

The STOMPer K, however, sounds remarkably stupid because of his attempts to sound intelligent. J. thinks that he’s a complete asshole because of his sensationalisation of a previously legitimate concern.

Straight off the bat, a friend who knows a friend who knows a friend who knows this STOMPer K, has pointed out that this concerned citizen is one who has applied for and been rejected by the faculty of medicine and is now studying in the faculty of Science. The rumour (a.k.a. character assassination) going around is that his demonisation of the medical students involved is due to this deep-seated bitterness. It would explain attempt to flaunt his measly surface knowledge of microbiology in an inaccurate manner.

They went to buy food in FULL LAB COATS!! Who knows what they have been doing before that? Patients? Viruses? Cadavers etc…

J.’s just going to pick on this for its terrible grammar (try saying “he was doing a patient”. wrong connotation there) and pointless emphasis (not many people wear half a lab coat).

“A couple of people stared hard at them in a futile bid to get them to remove the coats but they just ignore them – lack of knowledge or totally blinded by arrogance?” he asked.

“I am sure NUS and NUH have a stand on this. But maybe these youngsters think that they look ‘smarter’ with a coat to let others know their ‘status as a doctor!”

Agreed. J. is very surprised they willingly queued for food and consumed it while wearing white coats and stethoscopes.

“These guys may carry many bacteria on their lab coats or diseases causing Pathogens which may fall into your food when they walk past you.

“They may be the real source of the spread of diseases like tape worms, Staphylococcus, Dysentry or other worse diseases!

The stupid, it burns! Here we have a Science smartass who thinks he knows something about microbiology. Look, pathogens has a capital ‘P’! Scary. Staphylococcus species are common and environmental. Ooh, long-sounding bacteria name! Scary. Tape worms?! Really? Dysentery (not dysentry)? J. is sure that the outbreak of um… um… wait, there’s no outbreak in the faculty of science.

“What’s worse? When these guys return to treat the patients, their lab coats would have collected many other bacteria and viruses from the external environment and bring them to infect those immuno-suppressed patients (especially those in ICU and the elderly).

“Who knows how many patients will die from these causes!”

Yadda yadda. Firstly, most environmental bacteria aren’t as bad as the ones in the hospitals. Yes, hospital pathogens are meaner than environmental ones. What. The. Hell? Does this guy even know what’s infection control? Reverse barrier nursing? Does he think medical students go and rub their lab coats on patients’ faces?

“Have the medical people forgotten how Singapore suffered with Nipah and Sars?

What? What? This statement was so irrelevant it leaves J. at a loss for words.



2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by plhu on February 6, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    i seriously laughed out loud when i was reading K’s comments, but didn’t think it worth replying to.

    happy new year, btw.


  2. Posted by CS on October 5, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    I always wondered why doctors had to wear labcoats in the first place. What makes them so different from ordinary clothes? Or is it just like the wear-a-tie-or-your-hospital-is-more-likely-to-be-sued thing? (I always thought that was a bit odd but maybe with the large number of patients/ doctors it actually makes a difference to the hospital.)


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