In the last few decades surgical techniques have improved. The prevention of wound infection has been a major problem. Antibiotic usage has been ubiquitous and the emergence of resistant organisms has increased the difficulties encountered in the performance of surgery. Methicillin resistant staphylococci were among the worst of the possible infections that could be seen in patients who had undergone surgery. Gloves, gowns and masks had been effective for a considerable period of time but preventing these organisms entry into the surgical suites had become more difficult and a variety of measures were installed. Among the problems of bacterial entry into surgery were the clothing worn under the surgical gowns. To reduce this problem of entry into the surgical suite, hospitals adopted “scrub suits”. Hospitals bought these garments in large quantity and fitting them to appropriate sizes was not a major consideration. They wore often divided into medium or large. The fit was not a major consideration because these garments were not meant to be worn anywhere but under the surgical gowns. This was to prevent the bacteria laden clothes to be eliminated from the operating rooms.
Many changes were brought about by the introduction of the “scrub suit”. It became a uniform for surgeons as well as nurses and with increased usage by these individuals other hospital employees began to wear this outfit. It soon became the official uniform of the “healthcare worker”. The ability of the hospital to keep a sufficient number of these outfits available was difficult and keeping enough “scrub suits” available became a financial burden that had not really been anticipated.
The widespread use of the “scrub suit” by physicians making rounds in the hospital or going to their office became accepted and eventually even when making appearances on television, the “scrub suit” was accepted. I believe the next step would be the making of tailored, fashioned and properly sized scrub suits. This might be a business that could prosper or perhaps doctors and nurses as well as other healthcare workers are frugal and would not be willing to pay for these suits as long as they can get them for nothing at the hospital.
Ironically, along the way, the reason for their introduction in the first place was lost and now the surgeon wears this outfit in many places and reintroduces the problem which was supposedly solved by the “scrub suit”.
167600cookie-checkScrub Suits by Ted Bacharach MD (retired)