White Scrubs Only

July 5, 2010 § 4 Comments

"Green scrubs only". Photo by Øystein Horgmo © All rights reserved.

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.”

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§ 4 Responses to White Scrubs Only

  • Bryan says:

    “Did strict attention to detail yield to technology?”

    This seems to be the case, but I think there is more preventable measures taken so that there does not have to be as high strict attention to detail in hospitals.

    For an example, you probably always see the warning signs of not using cell phones in or around hospital O.R.s or patient care facilities. Well due to technology cell phones no longer interfear with the equipment we now use. Im guessing due to the equipment and cell phones being on different signals or waves.

    Getting back to about the scrubs, I think its the worst when you see hospital employees actually wearing there scrub uniforms on the transit. That to me is unbeleivable that they would actually do that.

  • Rob says:

    Interesting you bring this up. At my old hospital, they seemed much more relaxed about OR scrubs – to the point that many came to work in their OR scrubs, walked around the entire hospital coming in contact with countless patients, and left the work day (or night) wearing the same scrubs. I guess for us, it wasn’t as big of a deal unless you were actually participating in the surgery and scrubbed in – at which point you would be in a sterile below-the-knee gown and gloves.

    But anyone could walk in to any given OR, as long as you were in the OR scrubs; ours were a light blue. In fact there were many times I would be looking for various residents and checking each OR….probably not a good thing now that I think back on it.

    On a side note, I hope to get you a draft next week and then a final version shortly after. My apologies on the delay, job searching has consumed any free time I’ve had lately.

    • Øystein says:

      Here in Norway the hospitals supply the scrubs. When people come to work they change into white scrubs, which is the standard uniform for everyone that have contact with patients (secretaries and other office people can wear their own clothes). Before entering the OR ward you change into green OR scrubs, shoes and cap, and change back into white when you leave (or so the guidelines say). When the day is done you put your scrubs in a laundry bag. If you see patients on a daily basis you’re supposed to put on a new, clean set every day.

      Can’t wait to see the draft!

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