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History and Modern Use of Medical Scrubs

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Surgeons, physicians, and nurses differentiate themselves from other people in a hospital setting by wearing medical scrubs. Other than these medical professionals, other people working in a health institute such as cleaners and cooks are allowed to wear scrubs. However, to differentiate between different professionals, medical scrubs come in different colors. There are blue scrubs, pink scrubs, and even green scrubs. Before they gained popularity, Scrubs would be worn by operating room personnel and surgeons alone. They would wear the scrubs when getting ready for an operation and when performing the sterilization process. High performance medical scrubs should be easy to wash and simple in make. Scrubs are also supposed to be cheap as they are often replaced especially when stained irreparably. With advancement in technology, scrubs have been designed to be methicillin-resistant to keep the wearers clean.

History of Medical Scrubs
Many people would be surprised to learn that medical scrubs have evolved from butcher’s aprons. In fact, nurses and surgeons began wearing uniforms in the 20th century. Before then, a surgeon in an operating room would wear a butcher’s apron or even perform the procedure wearing his clothes. Furthermore, he would carry out the procedure using bare hands and non-sterile instruments. However, the concept of the medical scrubs was brought about by the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1919 and research by medical scholars such as Lister. However, the scrubs were invented to protect the doctor from infections rather than the patient from what is referred to as intraoperative infection. In the late 1940s, antiseptic gowns and drapes were invented to protect both doctors and patients. This scrubs would, however, be sterilized by exposing them to ethylene oxide and high-pressure.

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Use of medical scrubs today
In operating rooms across the globe, it’s prohibited to wear exposed clothing. This means that you cannot enter an operating room wearing a t-shirt even if it’s below the scrubs. Doctors argue that outside clothing can introduce pathogens to the operating rooms. When not in the operating room, a doctor is allowed to wear a white coat over the normal clothing. Modern scrubs are designed to have short sleeve shirts and pants. In other cases, there are designed to consist of a waist-length long sleeved jacket. However, when designed this way, they are not supposed to have stockinet cuffs or lapels.

Different Colors
Like mentioned earlier, hospitals use different scrubs colors to differentiate between departments. Departments in a hospital include delivery and labor, emergency, surgery, and security. In some hospitals, different color scrubs can be used to differentiate between licensed care personnel and unlicensed personnel. This means that people like nurses, respiratory and physical therapists as well as radiologic technicians wear the same color. On the other hand, personnel like unit clerks, dietary and portering personnel wear another color. There are custom made scrubs that are meant to cheer patients. These scrubs include cheerful prints and cartoon characters. Like the maternity wear, the scrub industry offers its client little fashion option. It’s important to note that medical scrubs are hired due to sterile issues.


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