Score one for standardized scrub colors

  1. A year ago, I went to an Urgent Care clinic that my employer had just acquired. The treatment was OK, but I was disappointed to see Medical Assistants calling themselves "Nurses" and being referred to as such by coworkers - a common practice in clinics.

    Since then, my employer decreed all job functions would have standard uniform colors. I was fine with the change, but many coworkers sure raised a hue and cry.

    I went back to that same Urgent Care today. Since my last visit it had been expanded into a full 24 hour Emergency Department/Urgent Care clinic.

    I immediately noticed they had changed to the standard colors as I knew the role of every single person I interacted with. An RT checked me in and an RN took my vitals and information. After a fairly long wait (expected) an RN escorted me to the exam room where a Medical Assistant (who introduced herself as a Medical Assistant) verified my information.

    A tech arrived and set up the suction canister that had not been reset properly after the last visitor. A HUC then came in and verified my insurance, employment, and address information.

    The MD, in generic blue surgical scrubs, was the only person I ran into without a standard uniform - which was not a problem.

    As a patient, I greatly appreciated the changes - especially the ending of the non-nursing personnel calling themselves, "nurses." The standard uniform colors were also appreciated and I think did a lot to stamp out the "role confusion" of MAs/Nurses.

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    RN; from US
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  3. by   hiddencatRN
    Was there a key posted anywhere for non-employee patients? Most places I've worked at with uniform colors don't actually do this, and the MD/mid levels and surgical staff do their own thing so they can be wearing whatever, which kinda defeats the purpose. I only worked at one hospital where a very small key was posted in the patient rooms and the doctors were still doing their own thing so could very well be wearing nursing or tech colors etc. I really am curious if lay people notice it at all.
  4. by   xoemmylouox
    I doubt most lay people notice and/or care. They may not even understand their is a difference.
  5. by   proud nurse
    Nametags showing a persons title should be enough to identify their role at the facility. I don't see the need to color code the staff, and if I were a patient I'm not sure if I'd even care.
  6. by   MN-Nurse
    Quote from hiddencatRN
    Was there a key posted anywhere for non-employee patients?
    I did not look for a key. At my hospital, a key is placed on the patient's side/overbed table along with the food menu and cable channels.
  7. by   platon20
    I definitely want to know who is treating me, and I expect for everyone to wear different colors. Nametags dont work as many hospital workers dont wear them it seems.

    RNs, midlevels, doctors, CNAs, medical assistants all need different colors.
  8. by   RNinCLE
    My facility has color-coded scrubs, and I have had multiple patients/family members tell me they appreciate it. With all the stress of a hospitalization and all of the people coming in and out of the rooms, it is helpful to them to immediately know the person's role who is walking in the door.
  9. by   wooh
    Quote from MN-Nurse
    The MD, in generic blue surgical scrubs, was the only person I ran into without a standard uniform - which was not a problem.
    But how do you know who the MD is if they aren't wearing something color coded?
  10. by   proud nurse
    If I want to badge in and out, get access to the med room/supply room, get a discount in the cafeteria, I'd better be wearing my nametag. I also have a bright red RN tag along with my badge that tells people my role.

    I can understand those who like it if it helps them. I expect staff to identify themselves and what department they're from when they enter my room.
  11. by   akulahawkRN
    I would suggest that most laypersons do not necessarily look for the key to the color coding of all hospital personnel, but they probably do intuitively figure out that each type of personnel has a color associated with them. They may not necessarily understand what particular role each color-coded is, but they do know that if you are visited by someone in a different color scrubs that you are being visited by someone with a different role in the hospital. They'll quickly realize that their meds are all given by people with one set of colors... and if they're particularly sharp, they'll even see that the nametags have RN, LVN, MD/DO, RT, and so on... and they'll catch on even quicker that each type of employee really does wear a specific uniform color.

    The US Navy did that with their flight deck personnel so that anyone who knows the color scheme can instantly tell who is doing what and what their role on deck is. With a little more observation time, laypeople would be able to identify that each color shirt has specific roles, even if they don't quite know what that role is.
  12. by   Violach
    Sparrow Hospital in Lansing now does this. The information below was taken from their hospital website:

    [FONT=Rockwell][FONT=Rockwell]Starting this month, Sparrow will begin a
    systemwide switch to a standard uniform
    dress code policy that means Caregivers
    in the same grouping will all wear the
    same color scrubs. A revised professional
    appearance policy has been approved and
    will be introduced in September.
    The switch to standard uniform color
    scrubs will:
    [FONT=Rockwell][FONT=Rockwell]Allow patients and visitors to easily
    [FONT=Rockwell][FONT=Rockwell]distinguish nurses, PCT’s and other
    Caregivers at just a glance
    [FONT=Rockwell][FONT=Rockwell]Improve safety and quality by allowing
    [FONT=Rockwell][FONT=Rockwell]physicians and other staff to quickly
    recognize personnel.
    [FONT=Rockwell][FONT=Rockwell]Improve patient satisfaction by
    [FONT=Rockwell][FONT=Rockwell]addressing patient care problems more
    quickly because of ease of Caregiver
    By making this change Sparrow joins
    hospitals nationwide that have switched
    to standard color uniforms in an effort
    to improve patient satisfaction, such as
    the Cleveland Clinic and University of
    Michigan Health System.
    The switch will save Caregivers money
    by initially providing free scrubs or
    reimbursing costs. Soon, Caregivers will
    have a quick and easy online ordering
    system. The online ordering system
    will benefit Caregivers with a 24/7/365
    availability of discounted scrubs and
    hassle-free payroll deduction.
    A team of Caregivers, MNA leaders, and
    UAW representatives worked together
    to recommend uniform colors. That team
    chose to create eight color uniform
    groupings to minimize patient confusion.
  13. by   MN-Nurse
    Quote from wooh
    But how do you know who the MD is if they aren't wearing something color coded?
    Because, unlike the previous situation where MAs were calling themselves "nurses," this particular MD said, "Hello, I am Dr. Pierce."
  14. by   BrandonLPN
    I get where the OP is coming from, but I agree with the sentiment that 99% of the general public couldn't care less if the person checking vitals or giving a shot in a clinic is a RN, LPN or MA.

    Right or wrong, people just don't care.