White Scrubs Only
July 5, 2010 § 4 Comments
A man was sitting on a bench outside the hospital, chatting with a friend in the warm summer sun. He was wearing green scrubs, green shoes, surgical cap and a mask around his neck.
Although it’s explicitly stated in the hospital’s infection prevention guidelines that it’s forbidden to wear green scrubs outside the operating ward, it’s a common sight in the cafeteria, outpatient clinics and hallways. Even outside in the sun. Why?
Ten years ago Rikshospitalet (The National Hospital) moved from its old buildings downtown, some dating back 200 years, to brand new facilities on the outskirts of Oslo. Everybody was excited to get to work in what would be the country’s most modern hospital. The operating rooms would be fitted with new technology, like laminar airflow ventilation.
Before the hospital moved, my colleagues tell me, no violation of the scrub guidelines was tolerated. Nobody would enter the cafeteria in green scrubs. OR nurses would be highly suspicious of anyone entering the ward that didn’t have their daily work there and treat them as infection hazards. Annoying if you were a photographer, but very efficient. “Did you disinfect your hands? What about your camera?”. No one asks questions like that today. Did strict attention to detail yield to technology? Back then they knew the facilities were old and they had to be pedantic to prevent infection. Did the laminar airflow make everyone relax? It can certainly seem so. And yet the infection rates has not decreased since the hospital moved.
Every year the department of hospital hygiene have campaigns to make personnel take off their watches and rings when treating patients. Maybe we need a campaign to make people change into white scrubs when leaving the OR ward too – “White scrubs only.”