Hospital Scrubs on the Subway?

  1. From a NY Times health blog:

    While infection control experts have published extensive research on the benefits of hand washing and equipment sterilization in hospitals, little is known about the role that ties, white coats, long sleeves and soiled scrubs play in the spread of bacteria.

    Hospital rules typically encourage workers to change out of soiled scrubs before leaving, but infection control experts say enforcement can be lax. Doctors and nurses can often be seen wearing scrubs on subways and in grocery stores.

    Some say there's no evidence that clothing plays a role in the spread of hospital infections. While others say the absence of evidence doesn't mean there is no risk-it just means there is no good research.
    some reader comments:


    What drives me crazy is the sight of someone wearing scrubs while shopping for groceries, going to the post office, picking up their kids from day care, and so on," writes Jenny, a nurse. "Someone wearing scrubs has been around germs all day. That person is too lazy to keep their patients' problems away from you, and now they're handling the apples and cereal boxes that you or someone you love may handle next."
    Aesthetically, scrubs always seemed the equivalent of wearing one's PJ or workout clothing in public. Even if they are clean, there's the perception that the person has just walked out of the operating room, which is grosser than the reality.
    The excuse that scrubs "might" be clean when worn to and from the hospital is simply an excuse that leaves doubt in the minds of the public - why would we health professionals want to do that? We already have problems with public trust - why inflame that? Oh, and the bogus answer that there is no research on the matter- well, DUH! Who would want to come into the OR as a patient and sign up for a study where your care-givers might be wearing dirty scrubs? No one that I know. Just change your dang clothes people.
    -- Paula, OR RN
    http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/0...age=2#comments
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  2. 25 Comments

  3. by   Thunderwolf
    Although I can not cite the sourch, one study had been done on physician white lab coats....and the results were not pretty.
  4. by   ChocoholicRN
    I happen to live in NY and work in a large hospital in the area and can tell you first hand that I see nurses, aides, and doctors wearing their scrubs everywhere!! I will admit there are times when I've stopped somewhere on my way home to maybe grab a burger or pizza or something like that, but if I need to actually go out somewhere for more I will always come home to change first. The first thing I do when I get home is strip out of my scrubs and they go straight to the laundry bag. I've also heard about studies which discovered that doctors white lab coats had a crazy amount of germs on them. And do these doctors wash each coat after one use? I doubt it, which means they bring germs from different patients all over the hospital putting other patients at risk.
  5. by   Super Nurse JoshuA
    I feel dumber after reading some of the comments.

    Partial comment from # 134:

    <<I am in business development for a home healthcare agency serving patients over almost 800 square miles. I look like every other young professional woman out there. I do NOT wear scrubs! That being said, on some days (health fairs, referral source visits) I come into potential daily contact with literally thousands of people in multiple locations, in various states of health and cleanliness. How do I (and my family) stay healthy?

    Thanks to excellent Nursing Assistant training by an RN many years ago, I am always cognizant that I may potentially be the one to make you sick! I wash my hands countless times daily, and use sanitizer. I store my supplies including literature and giveaways in a closed plastic container as I travel, take out only what I need, and never move items from one place to another. I remove my shoes just inside my door, sometimes I shower immediately when returning home, and launder clothes after each wearing. I do keep separate work/home wardrobes. I'm not militant or extreme, just AWARE.>>

    So, how is this any different if I wear scrubs and do all the same practices?? Are scrubs just more inherent to becoming infected??

    Comment 136:
    <<ALL health workers should be required to put on freshly sanitized clothing as they arrive at work - NO street clothes should ever be worn by health care workers on the job.>>

    OK. Some people have also been posting we should only wear sterile scrubs. Why stop at just scrubs in the hospital? Why don't change scrubs and shower in between each room each time, since any nurses' share of patient rooms could have a wide variety of communicable, hazardous, infections!


  6. by   bjlesm
    As a nursing student in NYC, I have only been in 1 hospital that had an actual locker room for nurses to change their uniform on their floor, and this was unisex, so the men and women had to go in separately. Most of the time, if we wanted to change at the hospital, either before or after our shift, we had to use the bathroom, not exactly clean.
  7. by   november17
    I'd love to have a locker room with a shower in it. I'd love to change my clothes at the beginning and end of my shift and take a shower and get the hand sanitizer and lotion smell off me. I'd love to have a locker with a week's worth of fresh scrubs inside. Unfortunately, the only people that get such facilities are the surgeons and OR personnel where I work.
  8. by   Adopt-a-dogorcat
    The only kinds of uniform/spread of germs issues for me are if your uniform gets soiled,or when I see people repeatedly putting on the same uniform a few days in a row.
    I have seen staff hang up their uniform in the locker room,come to work the next day,and put the same thing back on!

    Better to come to work in freshly laundered clothes,including traveling on the train,then wear uniforms,lab coats and scrubs that have come in contact with patients and germs day after day.

    bjlesm I agree with you. There's nowhere to change anyway,and the people that do,all get undressed and dresses together in a tiny-- maybe 8 by 10 room.
    No thanks!
    And if we come to having to change at work,we too would have to wait for the bathroom if we want privacy-- and how long will we all be waiting? And will we be paid for that time?

    So,realistically,where I work it's just not something I'd do.
    Better to put on a gown at work if you feel you may be in a situation where you may wind up getting contaminated in some way.
  9. by   wooh
    sarcasm starting: Don't these people know that I wear my scrubs in public to ensure that more people will get sick? Job security! Gotta make sure there's more sick people tomorrow!
  10. by   BookwormRN
    The only kinds of uniform/spread of germs issues for me are if your uniform gets soiled,or when I see people repeatedly putting on the same uniform a few days in a row.
    I have seen staff hang up their uniform in the locker room,come to work the next day,and put the same thing back on!


    EWWWWW!!!!!
  11. by   lunden
    wow, i never thought about the fact that i could be spreading germs by leaving my scrubs on when i leave work. i guess at the end of the day i'm so tired i just leave, pick the kids up, sometimes i run errands, but i will from now on change my clothes when i leave.
  12. by   BlueRidgeHomeRN
    ..and how many people wearing scrubs are nurses?? around here, its also techs, vets, vet techs, day care workers, cna's, ma's..etc. they are also popular gardening gear here in the warmer months.

    if a new yorker is worried about germs, i can think of a bunch of demographics that i'd be more concerned about than health care professionals.
  13. by   Farmer Jane
    I don't worry too much about it. If my scrubs get truly filthy I change them. Maybe they've got some germs but it's not like I make a practice of rubbing up against people--that would get me arrested.
    Last edit by sirI on Sep 30, '08 : Reason: quoted edite post
  14. by   sirI
    Closed for staff review.

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