Hospital fashions

The Boston Globe’s Style & Arts section is not my usual inspiration for blog posts, but today’s article, A healthy dose of hospital chic is an exception. According to the Globe:

As Jennifer Lopez’s due date drew near, the buzz began: The fashion-obsessed pop star would not be wearing any sad, frumpy hospital gowns when she delivered her twins.

Only couture would do.

Whether J.Lo gave birth last week wearing Roberto Cavalli or the hospital gowns made for her by Wellesley-based dearjohnnies, only her OB and her husband, singer Marc Anthony, know for sure. But J.Lo’s demands for wearable and stylish hospital garb are part of a growing trend, not just for new mothers but for other patients and doctors, too.

In 2008 it’s not really a blinding insight that new moms might not be thrilled to wear what the hospital issues to them. On the other hand, first time moms might not realize the amount of blood they’ll be dealing with either. Any experienced nurse will suggest saving the fancy gown for visitors and photos.

If patients are going to choose their own outfits, I recommend picking out something with enhanced functionality, not just style. Considering the rising awareness of risks that patients face from doctors and nurses who don’t wash their hands, medication errors and other ever-so-common no-no’s, there should be a market for patient safety clothing. In case any apparel engineers are reading this, here are some suggested features:

  • Gowns with big letters declaring, Wash Your Hands! Better yet, a gown with its own alcohol gel dispenser attached or a mister that disinfects anyone who comes close
  • Built in video cameras to let patients or caregivers keep track of who’s doing what to them
  • A computerized voice that reminds doctor and nurses of good practices whenever they are within earshot. “Shouldn’t you remove that catheter?”, “Did you check if I have a latex allergy?”, “Are you sure I need that drug?”

Now how’s that for defensive medicine?

February 28, 2008

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