White Coat Syndrome - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Thursday, July 17, 2003

White Coat Syndrome

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I'm Dr. David Vastola and when Patrick and I take care of patients like this, we're concerned about the white coat syndrome. When you approach patients with a coat they get afraid, their blood pressures go up, their heart rates go up - it can distort things. That's called a white coat syndrome but there's something else, it's called a reverse white coat syndrome. Do you know what it is? Let me tell you about it.

The story of the white jacket actually goes all the way back to Hippocrates where he stated that a physician should look clean, he should be annointed and even smell good. Those were his criteria and that was Hippocrates. In the 18th century the white jacket actually symbolized cleanliness because doctors were involved with gastric procedures - a lot of bodily fluids and blood, and they needed them to keep themselves clean. Now it's a symbol of medical care and it turns out that patients want it.

Dr. Brant of Montefiore Hospital in New York just reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine that patients preferred doctors in white coats. They've become more practical now. They serve as a way of carrying many things such as our stethoscope, percussion hammers and other instruments that we use. But for the patients it's really a sign of stature, a sign of security.

So when it comes to that white coat, don't be afraid of it because it's a rich sign of symbolism. It has a lot of history, it's very practical and it turns out that people really want to see that white jacket.

And I'm Dr. David Vastola and that's life.

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