Could Wearing Scrubs Prove Dangerous?; More

Marcy Tolkoff, JD

Disclosures

March 27, 2015

In This Article

Could Wearing Scrubs Prove Dangerous?

Cool, comfy, and casual, it's no surprise the standard medical uniform has worked its way into the off-duty attire of many healthcare workers, who often keep on their work duds after leaving the hospital. Sound harmless?

According to a recent article in Newsworks,[1] the practice of wearing scrubs out of the hospital as one tools around town may in fact pose infection risks. "There's been a very rapid and scary increase in the abundance and frequency of infections of antibiotic-resistant bacteria," Jonathan Eisen of UC Davis told the publication. "And one place we see a much higher frequency of these organisms is in medical care facilities. That's where people go when they are sick—hospitals."

Although scrubs clearly pick up bacteria, it's not yet been scientifically proven that the germs have been transmitted to others. "So until robust evidence exists, or more robust clinical studies are done, our focus is more on evidence-based practices, including hand hygiene, the isolation of patients with communicable diseases, and disinfecting of the environment. These things have strong evidence behind them for reducing the press of germs in hospitals." said Julia Sammons, medical director of the department of infection prevention and control at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).

The American Hospital Association has no guidelines on this subject, and according to Sammons, CHOP's only policies concern the operating room: Scrubs worn there cannot leave the hospital—an area-specific policy that Newsworks confirmed was the case at area hospitals.

A lack of policies—or unenforced ones—is something that needs to change, in light of the "exponential rise of antibiotic-resistant organisms," says Eisen.

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