islamabad - A sight becoming increasingly common these days is that of doctors wearing their white coats in public, outside of their practising facility.

One too many times physicians are witnessed wearing their lab coats on the streets, shopping areas and even mosques. Sometimes even with a stethoscope hanging over the oat.

It is bewildering to see such a sight because a health care provider, of all people, should be aware of the germs lurking in polluted air in open spaces.

These germs could easily be transmitted to the patient that the doctor is dealing with when they go back to their practising facility.

However, the hygienic implications are both ways. A hospital is virtually full of bacteria. Going out in hospital attire to another indoor place could transfer germs to those around you.

A white coat is supposed to be a symbol of hygiene and wearing it outside of clinical settings is a violation of this principle. If anything, it represents a lack of awareness about the ethos of the medical profession because the practitioner wearing a coat outside the hospital premises is obviously making a conscious decision to do so. So why do doctors in Pakistan make this decision?

Well, clearly, because they want to identify themselves as doctors in public. Wearing a uniform of some sort in public comes from the desire to appear professional.

However, this display of profession by the doctors to the world actually represents a lack of professionalism. It comes at the cost of hygiene.

Sana, a doctor in Islamabad says “many hospitals in Pakistan already don’t have the finest level of cleanliness but a medical professional, having years of education, should be mindful about such matters and can play their part by not wearing their hospital attire in public”.

Hamna Ali, an intern at a renowned hospital, says “it’s ok to assert the doctor status, but only to the patient or those present in the hospital premises”.

To curb this rising trend, big health facilities should hold a course explaining medical ethics to doctors.