Why Do Medical Professionals Wear Scrubs?

medical professionals walking down hallway

Have you ever wondered why medical professionals wear scrubs? Gone are the days of nurses wearing white dresses, hosiery, and deaconesses. Now, scrubs are required protective clothing that help keep cross-contamination to a minimum and keep medical environments sterile, free of unwanted bacteria and bodily fluids. From hospitals and clinics to caretakers to other independent healthcare professionals, we'll break down why medical professionals don scrubs.

A Brief History

In contrast to the medical uniforms long required of nurses, you'll be surprised to know that surgeons did not wear any specialized garments until well into the 20th century. Scrubs were initially designed for use by surgeons and other operating room personnel, who would put them on when sterilizing themselves or "scrubbing in." Not long after, it was discovered that the white of their outfits and the surgery rooms was very straining on the surgeon's eyes. So, medical staff began dressing in another color - green. This led to the commonly worn green scrubs we see today in all walks of medical professions.

Are There Different Types of Scrubs?

The varying types of scrubs utilized in medical settings depend on their purpose. For example, maternity scrubs are specially designed for expectant mothers to wear during their deliveries. They typically come in light colors to be easily identifiable. Doctors in the U.S. have various apparel options to choose from when they are at work and surgery is not taking place. They may wear their own clothes, but it's usually more common for them to don scrubs with a white coat as an additional layer of protection against infection or contamination during procedures that require contact with bodily fluids. Nurses typically wear scrubs throughout their entire shift.

The Main Reasons for Wearing Scrubs

There are many reasons why medical professionals dress in scrubs, ranging from cleanliness to comfort. Below are the primary reasons scrubs are worn.

reasons for wearing medical scrubs

Identification of Medical Personnel

Just like police officers or firefighters, healthcare workers also wear uniforms to make them easily identifiable. Medical professionals wear scrubs to help both patients and coworkers identify who they are in the workplace. For example, different colors of scrubs may be worn by each department, such as general care, emergency care, and ICU. In addition to helping patients identify healthcare professionals, businesses use scrubs to present a professional uniform appearance.

Pinpointing Harmful Contaminants

Scrubs are excellent for helping medical professionals recognize contaminants and bodily waste on their person. This is incredibly important for those working in environments where germ transmission is probable. Quickly identifying these contaminants and bodily waste allows them to provide a more sanitary work environment for both their coworkers and the patients they serve.

Protection of Personal Clothing & Skin

Changing into scrubs at work means healthcare professionals don't have to worry about ruining their clothing while tending to patients. Because some attendants come into contact with blood, stool, urine, vomit, and other fluids, it's essential to have appropriate attire throughout their workday.

Can Be Cleaned with Harsh Chemicals

Healthcare facilities clean and wash their scrubs and worker apparel with special chemicals and high-temperature machines to prevent the spread of disease. Because of the intense laundering, it's crucial that medical scrubs can withstand regular washing. Scrub uniforms are made of strong fabrics that can handle regular wear and rigorous, repeat cleaning.

Easy Accessibility & Equipment Storage

High-quality scrubs also provide healthcare workers ample pocket space, making it easier to carry around necessary tools and essential gear throughout their day, such as pens, swabs, face masks, sanitary gloves and more.

Comfort

If you've ever worn a pair of scrubs, you can attest to their comfort! Scrubs are easy to wear for long periods thanks to their relaxed fit, comfy shape, and soft fabrics. Healthcare professionals work notoriously long hours, and scrubs give them that added support needed to get them through their shift as comfortably as possible.

Budget-Friendly Attire

Essential medical scrubs are reasonably priced, especially when bought in bulk, making them easily disposable. If they are ruined, they can be replaced without much cost to the individual or facility.

Modern Professional Look

In addition to helping patients quickly identify healthcare workers, organizations use scrubs to provide a professional uniform appearance. By requiring medical scrubs, employees aren't wearing clothing that could distract or make the setting look unprofessional. However, it's common practice for those working in spaces that attend to children to wear bright-colored, playful scrubs.

Are There Any Downsides to Using Scrubs?

A 2012 study published by the Department of Health found that bacteria, including MRSA, were present on seven out of ten nurse scrubs at the end of a shift. This was mainly due to the pathogens that nurses possibly bring into the public and their homes when they wear work uniforms outside the work environment.

Many hospital systems have adopted stringent policies for addressing sterilization and proper handling of soiled scrubs. Employees can safely continue work as usual without risk to their lives or others who come into contact with them.

Can Scrubs Be Worn in Public Settings?

While many hospitals do not enforce staff changing in and out of their scrubs at the start and end of their shifts, it is encouraged. Outside of hospitals, scrubs are becoming more common in other areas, especially in light of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Non-traditional industries using scrubs include workout facilities, schools, and restaurants.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Guidelines for Environmental Infection Control in Health-Care Facilities, "Although OSHA regulations prohibit home laundering of items that are considered personal protective apparel or equipment (e.g., laboratory coats), experts disagree about whether this regulation extends to uniforms and scrub suits that are not contaminated with blood or other potentially infectious material." In this case, it is better to be safe than sorry!

Why You Should Use MIP Scrubs

MIP Cares' unisex, reversible scrubs are the perfect answer to your need for comfortable, practical, and high-performance workwear! Our scrubs are made of a lightweight, easy-care fabric that is soft, breathable and long-lasting. With plenty of pocket space, a comfortable design for freedom of movement, and color-coding for easy size identification, you can't go wrong! Make the switch today.