Sri Krishna Prakash Sistu1, Anullekha Naidu2

Aprons have long been a doctor’s ornamental and symbolic professional wear when a doctor has been recognised, respected and valued as very significant person if he wore a long sleeved white coat with a stethoscope around the neck in the past. There have been many studies done about the safety of wearing aprons by the medical professionals and many countries like Great Britain have discarded and abandoned the use of long white coats as it is considered a serious threat with regards to the nosocomial infections. In India, it has still been a custom and code that a doctor and medical students wear aprons in the Hospital. Various studies have proved that aprons worn by doctors carry dangerous microbial flora. Hence, a prospective study is done to cognise the question if “Aprons are a boon or bane?.”
This was a prospective study done to identify the bacteriological flora present on the aprons of 150 students in our institute NRIIMS, Visakhapatnam. The institutional approval and ethical committee clearance were taken. The swabs were taken from the pocket region of the aprons of all the students. The collected swabs were immediately sent to the microbiology department in different culture media including nutrient agar, blood agar and Robertson’s Cooked Meat broth.
Various bacteria are identified namely; 1. Gram-positive bacilli; 2. Micrococci; 3. Coagulase-negative staphylococcus; 4. Gram-positive cocci; 5. Micrococci with gram-positive bacilli; 6. Micrococci with aerobic spore bearing bacilli; 7. Gram-negative coccobacilli; 8. Gram-positive bacilli with ASB. The significance of the study is that majority of the identified organisms were normal body flora. Out of 150 aprons, 38 aprons were found to be sterile and one or more of above-mentioned flora are identified in 112 aprons. 25 out of 38 aprons, which were found sterile were washed regularly at least once in 7 days. 74 (49.2%) aprons are found to be having micrococci. 32.6% are with rest of the identified bacteria are namely gram-positive bacilli with ASB and other polymicrobials. Another significant point of the study is the % of sterility decreased as the number of days since the aprons washed increased. Least contamination is found in aprons washed regularly. 100% contamination is found in aprons not washed for more than a month. The x2 test is applied to test the significance. The test value is 41.5939 with 27 d.f. is significant at 0.05 level of significance P<0.05.

According to our study, although it appears that aprons can be safely worn as no harmful flora was identified on culture from aprons, it is still necessary to maintain 100% sterility to prevent even opportunistic infections in immune compromised patients. Apart from other sterility measures with regards to aprons, it is necessary to wash aprons on regular basis to maintain the safety of wearing aprons and to safeguard the patients. Hence, aprons can be either boon or bane when appropriately used.