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20 May

Should healthcare professionals wear scrubs in public?

Scrubs by Fashion Seal Healthcare®

I was sitting in a casual dining burger restaurant, a few weeks ago, getting lunch with a customer and in walks several doctors and nurses from a nearby medical center. I knew that they were doctors and nurses because they were all wearing jade green surgical scrubs and had their name tags clipped to them. I didn’t think much about it, until they all walked up to the “fixins” bar and started getting their toppings for their burgers. My mind changed gears and I started to wonder how many different “bugs” were on those scrubs that just left a huge building full of sick people? Is it possible that those germs are being transferred to other people in the area? When the waiter came over to see if we needed anything else, all I could think of was,“I’ll finish with the MRSA and a side of C-Diff!”

A debate that has gone on for several years and will only get more attention, is the question whether healthcare workers should wear their scrubs outside of healthcare facilities? With the ever-rising occurrence of MRSA and C-Diff outbreaks, the healthcare industry is looking for ways to cut down on the spread of these infections. A 2011 study showed that more than half of all scrubs worn by medical professionals harbored pathogens. With many healthcare facilities only supplying laundered scrubs for a select few employees, clean and sterile clothes are important, but very questionable, as the responsibility for properly cleaning and wearing them falls on the employees.

Requiring cover garments or forbidding the med-surge and OR scrubs from leaving the building are becoming reality at some hospitals. I know of one hospital in metro Atlanta that has started requiring all nurses and doctors to wear a warm-up jacket or a lab coat when leaving their respective departments of the facility. A cutting-edge hospital in Stamford, Connecticut has gone as far as to ban wearing scrubs outside of the hospital. I am not sure that this is the answer, but it certainly addresses the issue.

In the end, proper hand washing and personal hygiene is still the most effective way to slow the spread of infections. Covering or not wearing scrubs outside of a healthcare facility can certainly help too. Finding the absolute final answer to stop the likes of staph infections may never happen. That does not mean that we can’t make a conscious effort to slow it down.

Want to learn more about effective ways to slow the spread of infections? Contact Fashion Seal Healthcare at  And check out this article by Scott Delin, Vice President Sales - Spreading Germs:  A Healthcare Uniform Approach.

Doug Shaw was a Territory Sales Manager at Fashion Seal Healthcare. Doug has more than 15 years of experience in apparel sales and laundry/linen consulting and currently serves on the board of directors for the Georgia Association for Linen Management.



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