Hijab In Operation Theatres; Renewed Discussion

Seven medical students at Government Medical College, Thiruvananthapuram, have sparked a renewed discussion regarding hijab on campus. In a letter to the principal, they propose ways to reconcile their commitment to hijab norms with their responsibilities in surgical duties. Some believe the college should accommodate the students’ religious practices. However, the medical fraternity argue that the students should adhere to the existing rules and regulations of operation theatres. They opine that medical students should refrain from wearing hijab or any attire that may compromise patient safety and hygiene.

In the letter to the principal, the students express that wearing the hijab is a compulsory practice for Muslim women in all circumstances, based on their religious beliefs.


The medical fraternity maintains that if the students’ demand is granted, it could establish a perilous precedent and jeopardize patient safety. The dress code followed in operation theatres by Indian hospitals is globally recognized and forms an integral part of infection control protocols that have evolved over time. They emphasise the importance of maintaining these standards to ensure the well-being and safety of patients.

The Indian Medical Association responded by stating that sterile protocols and dress code in operation theatres adhere to internationally accepted norms. This includes “Bare Below Elbow” policy, which prioritizes patient safety. They emphasized the importance of maintaining these norms and advised against disrupting them.

The medical community expressed concern over the escalation of the issue on social media and in WhatsApp groups. They questioned why religion should be allowed to compromise patient safety and care.

The medical community strongly believes that medicine should remain free from any imposition of religion and faith.


The medical college authorities have decided to consult with the College Council of Management (CCM), infection control experts, and surgeons before reaching a decision on the matter.

The medical college authorities opined that there were no restrictions on students of any community regarding wearing religious attire or maintaining their religious identity on the campus. However, they highlighted that individual choices of attire, whether religious or otherwise, have no place in the operating rooms.


Majority believe religion should be kept separate from healthcare facilities. They think practices and customs that are not aligned with the modern world may conflict with contemporary medicine. Granting permission for such a request is not scientifically or ethically appropriate. They express concerns about the potential safety hazards that may arise from allowing different types of clothing for patients and staff. They believe that constantly being mindful of these variations in attire could distract doctors and nurses from their work. Thjis could lead to to an increased risk of errors.

One should maintain focused and standardized environment within healthcare facilities to ensure patient safety and efficient healthcare delivery. The doctors feel that considerations beyond medical necessities, such as religious attire, could introduce unnecessary complexities and distractions. This ultimately compromise quality of care provided.


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