Scrubs Standard Public Disgrace

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Why some doctors and nurses to take umbrage at the sight of their beloved scrubs walking about in public.

Is Public Health Hazard an Exaggeration?

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High-quality scrubs are extremely comfortable. Seams are reinforced. Fabric is durable. The cut allows freedom of movement without binding. Let’s face it, scrubs are the unisex pajamas medical professionals get to wear at work. But scrubs are making their way out into the wild.

Surgeons wear them. Doctors wear them. Nurses wear them. Dental hygienists wear them. Office administrators sometimes wear them. Physical therapists sometimes wear them when making house calls. Daycare workers, manicurists, hair stylists, estheticians, man, woman, and child… No medical degree is required to buy or wear scrubs. Anyone can enjoy the comfort of scrubs at home or… on the street. The latter location is where you are likely to raise eyebrows.

Assumptions about scrubs:

  • Everyone wearing them is a medical professional.
  • Scrubs are only for sterile environments.
  • After shift, they contain dangerous pathogens.

Preconceived notions cause some doctors and nurses to take umbrage at the sight of their popular attire walking about in public. ‘That person is dirty, disgusting, and inconsiderate.’ ‘When he gets back to the office, patients will be con­taminated.’ ‘She is cheesy or arrogant.’ “None of us should share public space with those who unnecessarily risk compromising public safety, knowingly or otherwise.”

People who work in the hospital and medical field are believed to have a higher status in society.

Sometimes medical professionals do wear scrubs on the street. Too tired to change clothes or cook after an 18-hour shift, they might stop at a mini-mart to purchase a sandwich or microwave burrito. Some who carry out administrative work may not come in contact with patients. A few doctors might be on their way to provide medical assistance.

Should an individual wearing scrubs change clothes before buying a breakfast burrito?

Public scrubs

Enough with the exceptions. There are photos of men and women wearing scrubs in the gym, pumping gas, walking to work, and shopping in Whole Foods. An associate editor saw some people in scrubs having lunch in a restaurant and was horrified enough to write a piece in The Atlantic that urged colleagues to “tell off” people seen wearing scrubs in such a disgraceful setting.

Sometimes a snack shop or food truck caters to a nearby medical office or hospital. Should an individual wearing scrubs change clothes before buying a breakfast burrito? Here are suggestions offered by and for scrub-wearing professionals.

  • It is alright to wear scrubs if you are grabbing a cup of coffee or a snack before work. Just make sure that you change scrubs for the OR or when handling immuno­compro­mised patients.
  • Avoid wearing scrubs when visiting a friend in the hospital. Apart from creating confusion, there’s also the risk of trans­mit­ting bad microbes to the patient.
  • Don’t wear soiled and stained scrubs on the street… ever.

Those wearing scrubs in public places are not likely coming straight from an operating room or hermetically sealed scientific clean room. Scrubs are not really about being sterile or protective in any way, Dr. Hooper says; they are just a “convenient, washable thing to wear that’s comfortable.” In one rebuttal, the point was made that pens, smartphones, pagers, and stethoscopes also harbor awful bacterial.

We live in dangerous times. While medical professionals battle the unregulated attire ethics of scrubs-standard care, you might want to rethink wearing scrubs publicly for pure comfort. Perhaps it is safer to wear your regular pajamas or be content with a ClinicalPins scrubs adornment—because we all should be concerned about patients receiving A Bit More Healthy treatment.

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Kevin Williams is a health advocate and writer of hundreds of articles for multiple websites, including: A Bit More Healthy, KevinMD, and Sue’s Nutrition Buzz.

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