Before scrubs were utilized regularly in the medical field, nurses and doctors commonly wore white uniforms while surgeons hardly wore any protective equipment at all, except for an apron. Supplies and equipment were often non-sterile, reused, and handled without any gloves or protective precautions.
Knowing what we know now about germs and bodily fluids, this information can make one squirm but also be thankful for the advancements and safer practices throughout the late 19th and early 20th century. In the mid 60s and 70s, we began to see medical professionals begin wearing green or blue scrubs, rather than the traditional white uniforms and aprons.
With a history of medical practices that progressed us to today, we have come a far way in preventing cross contamination and infections by enforcing strict biohazard rules and proper protective equipment to keep the workplace safe.
Keeping The Healthcare Workplace Safe With Scrubs
Whether you work in the healthcare industry or not, you most likely know what medical scrubs are. We see them worn when we visit doctor offices or hospitals, and have seen them in tv shows or movies.
Medical scrubs have become a staple in places like:
- Medical offices
- Operating rooms
- Dentist offices
- Veterinary offices
Scrubs are designed to keep healthcare workers and their patients safe from any germs or bodily fluids, but are also important for workplace safety for other reasons as well.
Help Reduce Eye Strain
The first reason that surgeons made the switch to green or blue from white was the natural contrast to red and allowed certain stains to be easily washed out or ignored. Secondly, because surgeries can last for hours and hours, the constant red focal point of blood can lead to eye strain and headaches, so green and blue scrubs allow the eyes to take a break and readjust after long periods of time staring at different tones of red under bright white lights while in white sterile rooms.
Contaminants Are Seen More Easily
There are many different possibilities when working with ill patients. This means as a doctor or nurse, there can be accidents or spills. With scrubs, you are able to identify any spots where bodily fluids like blood or urine have spilled or landed, allowing you to easily clean up or change as necessary.
Able to Clean Properly
Healthcare employees who wear medical scrubs need to wash their scrubs on a regular basis to maintain safety. Because of this, scrubs were developed to be easily worn, washed, reused, and to dry quickly. Scrubs are as simple as it gets, with no collars, buttons, or long sleeves, and the pants able to be pulled tight with a drawstring. Scrubs are typically always made with a durable fabric that can be washed in high temperatures and repeated use of harsh chemicals to disinfect. It is recommended to have scrubs washed through a proper cleaning service rather than taking them home yourself, to reduce the risk of contamination and increase workplace safety.
Breathable and Flexible Fabric
Typically, scrubs are made with a combination of fabrics of cotton, spandex, and polyester, which allows the end product to be breathable and flexible. This fabric is comfortable on the skin being lightweight and stretchable without clinging or being too tight. Different companies will use different materials, but all scrubs are made to be breathable and aid in mobility. Some special fabrics designed for scrubs can have moisture-wicking properties and antimicrobial fibers to combat sweat and other bodily fluids.
Separate Staff from Patient
Hospitals tend to chaotic environments, so being able to create order in such a fast paced workplace has the potential to save lives. There are many medical facilities that will designate different positions with different colored scrubs in order to identify workers making it easier and faster for patients and visitors to ask for help. This practice can be used for many different fast paced workplaces that need to quickly identify certain responsibilities of workers.
Some hospitals purchase disposable scrubs that are made of an affordable blend of fabrics that are cut with minimal excess product and have ergonomic, practical, and economical factors in mind. Some hospitals prefer to have higher quality scrubs that are able to last a lot longer and withstand harsh chemicals from frequent regular washing.
Made to Protect Medical Professionals
Hospitals are understandably a hot spot for bacteria and viruses, and doctors and nurses are not only risking infecting other patients by cross-contaminating, but themselves as well. Strict sanitary rules and frequent handwashing are critical to help limit the spread of germs, but many scrubs are made from antimicrobial clothing that can help prevent infection as well. These medical uniforms are made with the latest technologies that do not collect dirt easily.
Minimize Cross Contamination
Instead of wearing the same scrubs and clothing throughout multiple activities and risking cross contamination, doctors and nurses will wear special scrubs for operating rooms than the scrubs they wear when interacting with patients in and out of the office. This helps keep cross contamination to a minimum in comparison to wearing the same scrubs and clothing throughout multiple activities. Doctors or nurses that stay in their hospital clothes while going out to do basic tasks like grocery shopping are endangering others by spreading potential bacteria, and vice versa that all civilian clothing should be covered completely by scrubs. It is a serious issue in many hospitals across the country that infections and germs are spread through the medical workplace, but scrubs are one of the many ways that major health hazards are more manageable.
Maintain a Professional Work Environment
Medical scrubs can serve as a reminder that one is on duty, and they need to maintain professional behavior. The way scrubs look on personnel also has a positive effect on patients and visitors, giving them a professional look and giving confidence to patients and their visitors that they will feel as though they are well taken care of and will be given the medical help they need.