Scrub Suits by Ted Bacharach MD (retired)

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”.

Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected] 

  5 comments for “Scrub Suits by Ted Bacharach MD (retired)

  1. Richard W. Mondak
    June 25, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    I found this on a website called GruntDoc, and I think (in my fuzzy Monday morning logic sort of thinking) it compliments this topic…

    http://drhebert.squarespace.com/dr-hberts-medical-gumbo/2012/5/28/why-all-doctors-should-wear-bow-ties.html

  2. Richard W. Mondak
    June 20, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    Having “backed away” from the surgical setting several years ago, I no longer wear scrubs except for occasional sleepwear. However, EVERYONE (other than the ‘Providing Physicians’) in our Occupational Medicine Service wears scrub suits. The Physical Therapists or Techicians who perform phlebotomy and other diagnostic screening tests – I can understand (although I often perform those tasks when they are off-site or not available in “street clothes”), but Customer Account Representatives and other administrative employees?
    They often ask why the Medical Director and I DON’T wear scrubs. I can think of many witty or snarky responses, but in reality it is because when my wife upgraded my wardrobe, she did so with the hope (read that as “stern warning”) that I’d never have to wear ill-fitting, mismatched or threadbare garments to or from the office / Medical Center again.

  3. Bill Newton MD
    June 20, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    And Ted, the fitting clincher is that is NO evidence in surgical literature that scrubs even change the surgical postoperative infection rate! But they are comfy..

  4. andre
    June 20, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    How about all the folks from a major health facility showing up regularly at the near by Restaurant for lunch. Or the ones going to the Grocery store in scrubs. Is it for status, inconsideration for others or purely being lazy to change.

  5. steve
    June 20, 2012 at 10:33 am

    I agree! It’s not only lousy sterile technique, but it’s downright rude and dangerous when our colleagues go from a “dirty” case to the lunchroom.
    And what is it about a secretary’s job that requires a scrub suit other than access to the doctors’ parking lot?
    I’m just saying….

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