​​​​​​​Make sure surgeons look the part--just not outside the hospital

Surgeon surgery

Surgeons must wear appropriate attire even before they start a procedure, according to new guidelines from The American College of Surgeons, but they better make sure the scrubs stay in the hospital, writes one blogger.

A surgeon who goes by the name "Skeptical Scalpel" writes in the Medscape KevinM.D. blog that medical attire outside the workplace “sends the wrong message” to patients, who may worry that scrubs are covered in any number of germs--despite the fact that jury is still out on how significant the infection risk may be.

“Yes, bacteria can be found on scrubs. But one has to wear something to work, and whatever one wears can occasionally become contaminated,” he writes. “After all, it is a hospital.”

The surgeon writes that plenty of hospital staff members beyond clinicians wear scrubs, like secretaries, and they’re also far from rare outside the hospital, often worn in dentists’ offices or veterinary clinics. Scrubs are also readily available in stores to the general public, too, he writes.

The ACS’ guidelines recommend that surgeons change out of scrubs as soon as possible after a procedure, and prior to meeting with a patient’s family members. Scrubs, even ones that aren’t visibly dirty or soiled, must be changed after particularly messy surgeries, according to the ACS. It also recommends that surgeons avoid wearing scrubs when they meet with patients outside of the operating room.

ACS also suggests that surgeons and other staff members avoid wearing scrubs outside of the hospital, and recommends that putting OR staff in “distinctive, colored scrub suits” as a possible deterrent.  Though, according to Skeptical Scapel, some clinical staffers prefer a more distinctive look--one nurse he works with wears desert camouflage scrubs each day.

- read the blog post
- here’s the ACS statement