Scrubs In Public: Do Or Don’t?

This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.

We hate to break it to you, but wearing your hospital scrubs home could actually be a hazard. Health officials are concerned that deadly new “superbugs” spreading in some hospitals (think MRSA) can be transmitted unwittingly by those hospital staffers who wear their scrubs outside the building. The recent outbreak of CRE illustrates the importance of preventing the spread of superbugs.

Some hospitals have taken action, requiring staffers to change out of their scrubs before they leave the building. Some offer free scrubs laundry services to ensure that people outside the facility aren’t exposed.

Meanwhile, scrubs manufacturers are working on a number of solutions, including antimicrobial fabric and airtight bags for nurses to transport their scrubs straight from the medical facility to their washing machine.

So, what’s your reaction when you see medical personnel out in the world wearing scrubs? And are you a nurse who does? What kinds of reactions do you get from people in the grocery store? In the subway? On the street?


This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.

108 COMMENTS

  1. During The peak of COVID in 2020, one day I was so tired, I left the hospital and went straight to supermarket. I only wear white scrubs. I am 6’1′, 170 lbs. When I entered the supermarket I received some weird looks. As a browsed thru the aisles, a couple of mothers pulled their teenage kinds out of my way. I sincerely felt irritated. I mentally asked the other shoppers: “can you see I am just hungry?”. Needless to say, grabbed my items as quickly as I could and left.

  2. I’ve been a Tele nurse for 23 years. My opinion is to wear scrubs to, at, and from work only. I don’t agree with playing with dogs/cats before work where you might get hair and dander on your uniform. Too many people have allergies to these substances. Maybe stop for coffee “to go” if you’re wearing a coat over the scrub. My rationale is: Don’t pick up any germs on the way to work. Don’t pass any along on the way home.

  3. The article raises a good point. It also just goes to show how behavior, even that of professionals, is ultimately based more on tradition than common sense. I remember that when I was in medical school back in the 1970’s, many of the residents carried a hypodermic needle with them at all times for the purpose of testing pinprick sensation. The doctors went from patient to patient without ever changing the needles. No one ever questioned this practice!

  4. Guilty nurse here. I am not going home to change out of my scrubs to go to the gas station, pick up something from the grocery store or run a quick errand. Once I’m home, it’s a rap. Keep your distance and wash/sanitize those hands. You will be fine. But hey, I work in a clinic. When I worked the floor and ICU, I got gas if needed but otherwise went straight home, and stayed.

  5. To me it’s unthinkable to wear scrubs outside of the hospital- both ways: I dont wanna bring any bugs to the hospital and also not to my own home. Changing into scrubs at work and into my own clothes after my shift is the most normal thing to me.

  6. Not everyone who wears scrubs are nurses or even in the healthcare field. I work for a medical device manufacturer. We wear company provided scrubs to work, in the manufacturing clean room and then back home. I often stop at gas station, grocery store, etc going to and from work. I’m in a clean room all day, so while someone may assume my scrubs and I are dirty and contagious, I’m probably the cleanest person in the store. Here’s a bit of irony, in these days of Covid, I’ve found wearing scrubs in the grocery store keeps people away from me. I’ve literally seen people start down the aisle, see me wearing scrubs and do a 180 outta there. If distancing is a preventive measure during a pandemic, maybe not such a bad idea to wear scrubs in public.

  7. I have had multiple patients originally test covid negative, then are positive during the same admission. As they are “clean” on the floor I work on.. we wear our own scrubs and come home in same. When patients are positive, they go to a different floor. Where there are uniforms available. This is a huge risk to my family. As most of my patients are not on contact or airborne precautions. Until they “suddenly” are positive. Then the gowns go on, they are Transferred….but while they weren’t, my clothes could have gotten contaminated. Our clothes touch people, their beds/linens. All of which can be contaminated. At no time after work should we go in a store if we had taken care of patients. Only before work.

  8. Let’s wear the same mask over and over again. Our warm moist breath is a magnet for viruses and bacteria, yet you want to focus on scrubs?

  9. I’m a hospice nurse and do home healthcare, therefore I always wear my scrubs uniform back and forth from my home to that of others, and yes, sometimes stop at the grocery store on the way home.

  10. First off, I wear my scrubs to the store all the time for years and it’s no big deal. Even in these Covid times, wearing scrubs out in public is no big deal and why would it be? A prudent nurse would never wear soiled scrubs to the store, or anywhere for that fact. Since we were forced to wear mask I don’t wear it over my nose. Why would I wear a mask over my nose and breath in my own Co2? It makes no sense. Nothing about this virus makes sense to me and when something doesn’t make sense……it’s suspicious. Oh, btw, what happened to the flu, did covid scare it away?

  11. I don’t work in a hospital. Many nurses don’t. People should stop jumping to conclusions and judging. No one has ever commented on my scrubs anyway.

  12. During this pandemic, I always change my scrubs before I leave the hospital in the restroom closest to the exit. I bag my work wear in a plastic bag and place it in a designated work bag. I place those scrubs into a plastic sealable bin in the back of my car. I also change my shoes when I get to my car. I also carry a container of antibacterial wipes to wipe whatever I need to in my car.I spray my work shoes and all work bags with my can of Lysol .I take my work clothes collection to the local laundromat on my days off so I minimize any type of exposure from work to my family.
    Now, with all that being said, if I am on my way to work and decide to stop by the grocery store for lunch items then I am wearing my CLEAN scrubs into the store. What are people thinking about me??! God only knows! They are most likely thinking, “Ewwww!!!! Inconsiderate nurse wearing her dirty germ ridden nasty scrubs into the public! How dare her!!!
    Point??? You can be as careful as the next nurse can be in taking precautions to avoid spreading COVID, MRSA, SCABIES, ETC ETC
    The public is going to think what they want regardless of what you do; Inevitable. As nurses we do what we can and I think it would be unfair to restrict us from wearing our scrubs in public, however, if this pandemic does not improve soon it could be a fair part of the solutions to minimize the viral spread of Covid19.

  13. I have been a nurse for almost 37 years. Many of those years spent working in ICU caring for many patients with isolation worthy diseases. Back in the day if I took care of a patient with MRSA, VRE, HIV, meningitis, etc. I would strip in the garage, bag my scrubs and take them straight up to the washing machine and then shower. Today I work at an Ambulatory Surgery Center and scrubs are laundered there. I don’t see the harm in wearing scrubs into the store on your way home if your not caring for patients with known super infectious diseases or if you work at a facility with healthy patients, as I do. Use some common sense. There have been a few days when I have worn my scrubs home and stopped by the grocery store during this Covid-19 pandemic and have gotten quite a few stares; kind of like your Typhoid Mary. I don’t see it being done much now, because so many people are so fearful of Covid transmission.

  14. hello.. nosocomial infection… iatrogenic illness…. my biggest pet peeve with coworkers that go out for lunch and those that make multiple stops in scrubs before work.. I would be remiss without mentionining Drs ties. lose that thing

  15. As an infection preventionist, I have always been against wearing scrubs in public. Microbes are carried into the hospital and conversely, into the community. It is a bad practice!

  16. I’m a pediatric RN who has been retired 15+ years. I wore my scrubs home but would strip off at the door, putting the scrubs strait into the washer. That was after my husband would come down with whatever virus (RSV etc) the kids had. After washing my scrubs immediately after work, he didn’t get sick.
    In this day, I think we need to revert to wearing street clothes home after showering and changing at work. Not just nurses, but doctors, Med students, aides, clerks. Hospitals should issue scrubs to be returned at end of shift, washed by the hospital.
    There have been cases of nurses/doctors etc being kicked out of apartments/condos in NY. That was right after the clapping praising health care providers.
    It may not be medically necessary but if it eases the public’s mind, do it. And if it saves one family member, all the better.

  17. Is there an algorithm for common sense? I work in a procedure area and don’t have pt contact but occasionally step in blood, so I wear shoe covers and leave my shoes at the door. When I worked in the ED I wore a gown if indicated, changed my shoes and bagged before getting in car and changed clothes and showered before my kids hugged me. YES I stopped at store and gas station but no one hugged me there…

  18. I have been a Nurse for 51 years and I really hate using scrubs.
    Never used them and never will unless it is mandatory.
    I always used regular clothes or a Uniform as deemed by the organization.
    I hate seeing people in public flouting their scrubs!!

  19. Scrubs in public…. ABSOLUTELY A NO!! No matter what you do or where you work any position that requires you to wear scrubs to work, do so because you are exposed to NASTY BIG BAD BUGS that attach to your clothes! When go out and about around town ie… to your local Bar/Restaurant, Walmart, grocery store or mall YOU ARE SPREADING THOSE NASTY BIG BAD BUGS!! If you are required to wear scrubs to do your JOB, you know better and YOU are a contributor to our SUPERBUGS!! Behave like you deserve the respect you are granted by Society!! NO SCRUBS IN PUBLIC!!!!

  20. I think hand hygiene should remain the focus. However, when I worked in the hospital I also had a routine of changing my shoes. As soon as I reached my car, I would change out of my shoes and into my street shoes. I kept a box in my trunk for those. I figured, of all the things on me this was the most germ laden. We are also a no shoe household (we do wear “house shoes”), so even my street shoes never make it beyond the entry to track dirt/germs into the house. Another rule I had: no hugs for/from mom until she was changed and showered.

    Now that I work in an office, I still wear scrubs on occassion. I even travelled via plane in scrubs going from one office to another for a training in another state. They’re comfortable, why not? I think there should be some degree of personal discretion/responsibility, but I don’t think we should be eye-balling all nurses in scrubs on the street (that person may not be a nurse anyhow). We get enough scrutiny and have enough stress as it is.

  21. Meanwhile…doctors are running from room to room without washing their hands. Going to see patients on contact precautions with no gloves, gowns and using the same stethoscope from room to room….but our scrubs….Are spreading germs??? Give us a break!!!

    • We all have seen other health professionals abuse clean technique, universal precautions, PPE use. The best is to lead by example. If you see the abuse of technique then remind the person in a positive way to adhere to universal precautions. Don’t go to the store after work in scrubs you worked in, yes you can spread diseases to others, many are out there immune compromised, it’s like spreading the common cold by contact touching door handles, store counters, etc. Ever wonder why there are less colds and flue since Covid-19, because we are much more aware of contact spread.

  22. So the antibiotic overuse, antibacterial everything is not to blame for the superbugs that have developed? Just a thought. People are worrying about what to wear to and from work but the real issue, antibiotics for a viral infection, goes untouched.

  23. I’ve been an RN over 40 years. 39 of them as a psych. nurse. It was policy on the unit to wear street clothes to normalize the hospital experience. Everyone knows when you get a new manager they have to change everything- put their personal stamp on the unit. A recent new manager decreed that all night shift staff must wear scrub tops/jackets so patients could identify us as staff. I can tell you I never had any problem whatsoever with patients understanding I was staff. This was the manager’s own personal issue. Result- I had to buy a whole new work wardrobe. She just left after only about a year. What will the next 1 want? I wear scrubs anywhere I’m going after work. Surprise- Schizophrenia, Bipolar, etc. aren’t catching!!

    • Thirty-five years as a psychiatric nurse and always wore street clothes until the last 4 years. The hospital I have worked for these past 4 years insists on it for all staff on all shifts. I also wear scrubs anywhere I go after work on the way home. Unless the hospital furnishes me with a place to shower and change after work, that is the way it will stay for me.

    • They are not, but nurses working on a regular hosp floor with patients with infections can spread the germs. Even wearing your shoes from the hospital to the grocery store after work can be a problem.If you wear your clothes home from the hospital, toss them directly into the laundry and keep everyone, including yourself and your family, safer.

    • old nurse , many years ago until the 1980s hospitals supplied nurses with a lounge , lockers and changing area..these rooms were repurposed for administration use..what should i do..take off scrubs on street corner while waiting for bus? no choice but to wear scrubs home! i do agree that wearing them to shop, visit or have a drink after work is inappropriate..but if my car needs gas i am not going home changing clothes and heading out to gas up..

  24. So much depends on who and where you work, Fact: Military RN’s all Branches Scrubs are provided (You supply your own Lab Coat), I was a supervisor at one of the Major Military Hospitals, Strict Policy, you do not even leave the unit, SCU, ICU, CABG, BURN, Neuro, NICU, Cardiac, Trauma or ER, Do not ever get caught walking the hallways in Scrubs without a lab coat! You seriously think of everything e subject ourselves to, other than the Fact Military RN’s do not have a choice about getting inoculations, but as a civilian I refuse all of them, I have more anti bodies just from Patient contact! Final Word….No Scrubs EVER outside the Hospital.

  25. I think worse than wearing scrubs in public is wearing a lab coat that never gets washed and looks filthy. Many doctors, nurse managers, and mid-leveerl providers are guilty of keeping it hung in their office and never or rarely washing it.

      • In my 30 years nursing, the worse I saw was when I worked in the OR. I worked with a neurosurgeon that never washed their lab coat. They would walk everywhere with that disgusting stained coat on, including seeing patients on the floor. We would argue about it as I would not let them into the OR, until they removed it outside of the OR. I would also have to tell them to step back from the operating table several times to put their escaped long hair back under the cap. I did report it several times and eventually the surgeon was let go, although not for this.

  26. the solution is simple I just come to the hospital early and switch out my scrubs after a long day I just don’t feel like changing into my street cloths but I am fine getting there early and changing into fresh scrubs

  27. Give me a break!!! We all know that PPE required for things like lice and scabies. Evidenced based research point to proper hand hygiene time and time again. Lice is more apt to occur in schools, and yet I don’t see instructors racing home to change clothes before shopping for groceries.

    • I agree. Going to out in the public, say Walmart, probably exposes us to more than we find in the hospital because we are not wearing our protective PPE.

  28. I’d gladly leave scrubs at work if they supplied and washed them. My scrubs get more wrinkles from putting in bag to carry to work than wearing

  29. Bugs are every where people in and out of the hospital. Universal precautions protect nurses and staff in the hospital. Unless u have a patient with a smart bug or scabies or bacterial meningitis. There is no reason to change scrubs just to run to the store after work in your scrubs on a regular basis. Stop picking on nurses we save lives not expose people to diseases from our scrubs.

    • I have seen “professionals” walk out of the OR in gowns and shoe covers and then reenter the OR without changing shoe covers. This is bad. When I see a nurse (or dental hygenist or hair dresser-you can;t tell the difference) walking around in scrubs I think the same thing-“Bugs are where people in and out of the hospital.” Why bring the outside bugs into the hospital? I had a cousin who died from C. Diff. when she was confined to the ICU for another problem.

  30. Oh well gilty of the scrub in public. This is a mute conversation. To scrub or not to scrub, that is the question? We do our best to avoid germs, illness and all the in between, but yet we still grow old and die. Hand washing is still the biggest fighter against germs. Just keep doing that. The immune system works untill it doesnt. Know where you practice and go from there. Opinions, (public stares) are like germs we all have them and sharing them is a no brainer, but using good judgement is a given😇

  31. I live an hour and 15 minutes from the hospital and when I go to work I usually meet a friend for coffee. My scrubs are clean as I have not worked. I do not see a problem with wearing scrubs before going to work.

  32. Nurses aren’t the only ones wearing scrubs. I have seen other professions in scrubs as well, such as; daycare workers, hair stylists, etc. While in hospitals, skilled nursing, or home health PPE’s are required to take care of standard and isolated patients. These are the same patients visited by families who refuse to comply with facility request to wear said PPE’s because “it is their loved one”.

  33. patients visit come and lay in the bed , everyone blames nurses. Wash your hands keep your clothes clean with 24 hour visiting and children in the hospital visiting everywhere. Just a another way to abuse nurse. Why don’t teachers wear special clothes they are with kids all day. Crap

  34. Like nobody ever went out with dog poo on their shoe? Or sat on a bench that someone else had spat upon. Maybe the germs from that crawled up your pant leg and jumped into the bananas!

  35. I think one of the worst offenders (and there are many) are surgeons. They go from case to case and then lunch, dinner and home in the scrubs. Many throw on a lab coat but thats it. I even have problems getting them to keep their nose covered when masked. Many believe it is only intended to cover the mouth!!!

  36. I’ve worked in surgery for 36 years and our policy has always been to wear street clothes to work, change into hospital laundered scrubs and change back into your street clothes at the end of your shift. However, I am allergic to whatever detergent they are laundered in so I take the freshly laundered scrubs home, wash them in my own detergent, wear them to work carrying my clean street clothes which I change into at end of shift thereby leaving contaminated scrubs and shoes at the hospital to be laundered there. Over the years it has been a constant controversy with management. They claimed I was bringing germs from my house into the OR environment. Let me tell you my house is a lot cleaner than their OR!

      • I could, but why should I change clothes twice in a matter of less than 15 minutes? That’s ridiculous when there are surgeons and product reps that wear the same scrubs from hospital to hospital.

    • Many have issues with allergies to cleaning solutions/detergents. Wash your scrubs at home, bring them to work in a plastic bag and put them on at work not at home, that is the best technique.

  37. I agree, but that being said they need to allow for time to change and have a big enough area to change clothes in.

  38. I don’t think this is a black and white issue. This article is based on the author thinking that the nurse is leaving from work with scrubs on. This may not be true. Keep in mind, just because you are a nurse, we are not all working at a hospital. I work in an office and half the time I wear scrubs because they are comfortable. Some people wear scrubs to go out to run errands. Keep in mind the bacteria and viruses in the hospital is already in the community.

  39. I worked in the ER in the early 80s and when a woman was raped, we took her clothes for evidence, but gave her a pair of hospital scrubs to wear home when she was discharged. So, if we ever saw someone on the street with scrubs on, only the hospital personnel knew the real story. So, besides all the germs, I wouldn’t wear scrubs in public, on purpose. A few years down the road, in the 90s, I was working in a different state, but in the ER and the hospital didn’t want to provide scrubs to save on costs…..I contacted a local TV reporter, a friend of mine at the time, and a big story on the news about nurses bringing germs home to their families, allowed the hospital to continue providing scrubs to the ER staff for the time being!

  40. Have we all forgotten our microbiology class???? I know my first lab was to wipe a wet cotton swab anywhere in the room or outside hallway and then plate it on agar. Every kind of bacteria known to man grew and probably a lot of unknowns. Have we also forgot about the physiology of the immune system? We build up our immune systems by being exposed to other germs/bugs. For example back in 1989 or 90 I was exposed to MRSA and I did a screen because I had a sinus issue at the time I tested positive, no surprise there. I was also told I would colonize it the rest of my life. Fast forward to today I was tested this summer because I was going to be hospitalized after minor back surgery the screen of my nasal swab was negative. My point there are bacteria every where some good some bad and if we have a healthy immune system we will be fine. Please people stop being so germaphobic and stay healthy so your immune system stays healthy. Also realize we can’t be responsible for everyone who gets sick in our community.

  41. Not everyone wearing scrubs is involved w/ supergerms. I work in a School Nurse’s Office and I wear scrubs. I am around kids all day. To me it is like a regular outfit but w/ extra pockets. Over 600 kids could come running thru my office and only 2 being sick. Does that mean I’m now carrying the super virus in my scrubs? All the teachers could be carrying that same bug in their clothing that I could be in my scrubs. I can see it if you work in a hospital, however not everyone does. Please keep that in mind.

    • Dear Monique,
      FLASH, schools are the worst environment for GERMS and infectious processes. Children are serious carriers of every bug in the world. Seriously, years ago they would not allow children in to visit hospitalized patients, secondary to them carrying germs etc. etc.
      Dump your scrubs in the garage when you get home.
      Thanks,
      Barb (operating room nurse, and old school nurse also)

      • That would also go for every teacher and student. There is no practical way to deal with this. Before the day of scrubs when we all wore uniforms, we didn’t change. My solution has always been covers or lab coats. I wear one in patient care and a different one home. I am not all that comfortable about wearing something only slightly above my pajamas to work let alone in public. That being said changing clothes 4 times a day just isn’t practical.

      • You are so correct Barbara! School children carry everything from sniffles to measles, mumps, influenza, and the same blood borne pathogens found in a hospital. Why would you expose the rest of the community to whatever is being spread around in the school? Just because you aren’t in a hospital, doesn’t mean your scrubs are clean.

    • I can’t even really see it if you work in a hospital. Where in the heck do we think these infected people were before they were hospitalized??? In our schools, grocery stores, doctor’s offices, post offices … just everywhere. The germs are already out there, folks. As FNP said… they are everywhere. I, for one, hate to see the extremes germaphobic people go to in order to feel safe – it borders on obsessive behavior. If scrubs have visible stool or blood on them… yeah, don’t go to the store. But otherwise – we’re not carrying anything new out there. It is already on the last can of tomatoes someone else picked up…

      • Like the patients with scabies or lice? And then you take it out of the hospital & expose everyone else? This is not obsessive behavior – it is smart behavior.

  42. I worked in surgery where we had to change so scrubs stay in hospital & we didn’t bring anything (dog hair etc) into the OR but that only applied to the nurses. For some reason the lab, MD’s, x-ray personnel & others are thought not to be transporting germs into or out of the hospital. I still don’t understand that.

  43. Like everything, I believe this 100% about money. It saves the hospital/clinic/facility money if the employees have to buy and launder their own scrubs. Also, the facility would have to provide areas where staff could shower and change clothes. Lastly, staff would insist on being able to clock in BEFORE having to dress into said uniform and shower and change out of it.

    I think YES that IS the way it should be, but everyone knows that at hospitals, the least amount of money goes to actually paying the worker staff.

  44. What about Home Health Nurses !! If going from home to home how will we stop the spread of “Bugs”??
    We can with our hands, on a daily basis that’s about it !! The patients go home with the Superbugs, and some do not know it. So, this leaves a question that is hard to answer. (Completely).

  45. Way back when I worked in critical care we wore our street clothes in then changed into scrubs and changed back into street clothes as the conclusion of the shift and the facility did the laundry. I think scrubs should be left in the hospital/nursing home and laundered by the facility. In the age of superbugs, MRSA, VRE, C-diff, ESBL…let’s leave them in the institution. I am not impressed when I see a person in the shopping center or grocery store wearing scrubs…in fact I think EEK and what’s worse is when someone wearing scrubs on the “outside” is holding a child next to the scrubs! Let’s keep the scrubs in the hospital and have the facility do the laundry!

    • I agree. The other added benefit is when there is a “accidental fluid release”, you can change immediately into clean scrubs, you are not stuck in them the rest of the shift.

    • Totally agree. I would love to see a study comparing the infection rate in a hospital where scrubs are provided vs staff wearing their personal scrubs back and forth (and who knows where else?)

    • Not everyone in scrubs are in that environment. I am a Hospice Nurse, out in the community. I can’t change every time I see a patient. However, if I am in a known ‘buggy’ environment I will wear appropriate PPE and good handwashing AND I won’t go into the store. My worst exposure is when I go around the general public and exposed to their germs.

  46. When we had to start buying our own scrubs, I washed mine separately from other wash at home and ironed them. I ironed them because I was taught that ironing linens killed a lot of bacteria. Then they were brought to work in a plastic bag and placed in my locker. I am an old nurse, 53 years and counting. In my current nursing job as an in-home infusion nurse of specialty medications, I generally wear washable street clothes. I don’t wear a lab coat either as too often I see them worn as a symbol rather than a safety measure. I am not dealing with infectious patients anymore and my clothes are as clean as if I wore scrubs in my car to drive to my patients’ homes. I wash my hands, wear gloves, and otherwise use the techniques all nurses should use to keep my patients and myself healthy.

    • As a nurse out in the community, I usually wear scrubs and a lab coat…mainly for all the pockets. I need the pockets! I use appropriate PPE as indicated and good handwashing. General public (family, friends) are in and out as much as I am and not as careful.

  47. What about the visitors? It’s true, these patients arrive at the hospital with these germs, are put on contact precautions and are discharged like nothing is wrong! It is called universal precautions. I leave the hospital sometimes for my lunch break and walk over to subway. There isn’t time to be changing your clothes to go eat lunch and then change again after lunch! We barely have time to eat at all! This is absolute nonsense. I cannot think of anytime when I say that close to someone else in a restraunt, no one has ever come up to me and rubbed my scrubs and I have not witnessed anyone rubbing or licking their seat before they sat down.

  48. Interesting article, but it’s a little narrow in its scope. While infection control is important, there are other issues.
    Like workplace violence. Too many people see nurses as legitimate targets, and some folks have a grievance, real or imagined, and it doesn’t make sense to wear that target on your back in public.

    Then there’s personal behavior. If your employer requires you to wear scrubs embroidered with their logo, you have to remember that everything you do and say reflects on the organization – for better or worse. When you wear their brand, you have to be careful about your demeanor.

    I never saw a nurse in scrubs in public as unprofessional. I see her as a colleague, indeed a hero, who is also human. But if, God forbid, some emergency happens and she’s there in her scrubs, suddenly she’s got a duty to intervene, and possible in ways she’s not skilled in.

    On the other hand, there have been occasions where I got something I didn’t deserve – a warning from the kind police officer, and not a citation – because I wore scrubs.

    • I think what you wrote is off point, but you have mentioned valid issues. I HAVE seen unprofessional behavior from people wearing scrubs in public. I, personally, don’t believe everyone wearing them is a person related to the medical field. I think they are wannabes.
      Yes, a nurse, in scrubs or not, may be called to answer an emergency she is not skilled in, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t assist in the best way we know how. “Good Samaritan Law”
      I’m curious as to why a policeman would give you a warning about something you didn’t deserve? You mentioned it, explain it.
      I don’t work with patients who are carrying super bugs or even minor super bugs. But, having said that, I also don’t become OCD with germs. I live by the old saying, we’ll all eat a peck of dirt before we die. I’m never sick. I’m careful but not obsessed.

  49. Ok I am an old NICU nurse. We always wore hospital laundered scrubs. We didn’t buy our own or wear our own. Every thing changed when they decided scrubs don’t carry germs. Now this. Just proves the old school ways are best! ???

  50. I think it all depends on what you do. I work in a DD facility, to me it’s like home with my kids. Plus, scrubs got me out of paying a speeding ticket in traffic court one day.

  51. Interesting that nurses started wearing scrubs because they were easier to “clean”. The whole idea of the lab coat was to wear to work to keep uniform clean from the outside “germs”, then wear it home to keep your things and family safe. Now the lab coat is a prestige item that is worn daily and rarely washed which is even more dangerous to the hospital and self. Another unsafe object that nurses use is their stethoscope which they put around their neck all day then throw on the floor of their car and then use again the next day. What happened to wash hands, wash hands, wash hands? What about the ink pen you keep in your pocket and pull out with your gloved hand to write something down in the patient room then put back in you pocket then later your purse/pocket and then go home. Anyway I don’t think there is a real answer but those who think they are not contaminated in some way (such as radiologist, PT, respiratory, nurses, doctors) just do not understand the problem. Most people don’t even know if you are a nurse or not because everyone does wear scrubs. Don’t worry about what people think of you but what you are doing to stop the spread of the “germs”. A nurse must protect the public as well as the patient and their own families and self.

  52. Having been a nurse for 35 years, I don’t think we would have as much of a problem with super bugs if we still practiced the way I and many other nurses were taught in school. All patients were bathed everyday and their bed linens changed daily. At that time, gloves were not worn all the time so we washed our hands all the time. I remember seeing old movies where the nurses changed their clothes before leaving the hospital. Maybe if we still did some of these things (and doctors hadn’t over prescribed antibiotics), we wouldn’t have the super bug problem today.

  53. I agree with the article 100%. However, anyone, besides nurses, can get a set of scrubs at Walmart, Kmart, etc. People buy scrubs for casual wear. I see hospital employees wearing their hospital scrubs (the shirt has the hospital’s name) to do mechanic work on their vehicles or take their child to a soccer game. Where’s the control??

  54. I see people in scrubs at stores all the time. Most look like they are not healthcare professionals. People buy them at the dollar store and wear them as everyday clothes. How do you deal with that. And there are a lot of healthcare professionals who wear scrubs but are not in an area that is going to be “contaminating”. Surgery changes into scrubs when they get to work. Mental Health workers wear scrubs but don’t deal with the same level of “germs”.

  55. I ‘ve been a nurse 40 yrs was taught never wear scrubs,uniforms to stores or markets,unprofessional,if you can’t change cover with a lab coat.I bring a change of clothes with me.when I see scrubs I think,”wonder where they have been?”

    • That’s crazy Patricia. If I have something contagious, I can still spread it in normal clorhes. Universal precautions is taught at all nursing facilities. Some of you people need to get a life. I work in health care, stop to the store on my way home from work. Doesn’t make sense to go home, change and go back out again, unless I was visably soiled. Germs won’t jump from my uniform to your street clothes.

      • That’s just insane, Doris. You sound like Tb Annie. You’re smearing c diff and MRSA all over the fruit bins where little kids like to lick? Have a little compassion!

        • Tim, sorry to break it to you, but the patients have already spread c-diff and MRSA on the veggies and fruit. For example, a previous patient of mine who had been in and out of the hospital for colitis that complicated by c-diff that would not go away sees me at the super market and stops to say hi. I ask him how he’s doing and he explained that the c-diff is still giving him trouble. That he is going to be admitted to another hospital for a stool transplant. We were having this conversation as I was picking out some scallions. Needless to say I left the store without buying anything.

        • Really Tim??? Where I come from we wear proper PPE in those rooms. However, in nursing homes C-diff patients are not isolated. That being said what about family members who visit infected patients and return to the community??

  56. I agree with S. I worked at a hospital where I witnessed a nurse get body fluids on her scrubs during a code blue, she asked if the hospital had a set of scrubs she could borrow, they refused. She was told she should have had an extra set in her locker – our lockers barely fit a purse. A set of scrubs would have to be folded a dozen times to make fit, let alone what they would look like.
    Ann also makes a good point these super bugs are in the community, patients get sent home with MRSA VRE and other bugs all the time. They also come into the hospital positive for these bugs all the time without knowing they are carrying or spreading anything.

  57. Superbugs, humbug, and any other type of bugs are everywhere and it is not just with health care workers. I have been in health care for over 20 years and have not got sick or heard of anybody else getting sick because of us wearing our scrubs from work. With good universal precautions and hand washing I believe it’s okay. Besides we don’t know what germs the person who is standing beside us in the grocery store, in regular clothes may be carrying. But that’s just my opinion.

  58. Hello,
    I am on the fence with this one. I agree if the person is coming from work, and they have been exposed or potentially.. They should change.. But what about the nurse who is running into the store before work to grab a cup of joe? Must we make her life even more hectic by making her leave 15/20 min earlier for work to change?

  59. I am a Home Health and Hospice nures. It is not practical for me to change even if I wanted to do so. Using good technique and providing known patients with MDRO kit are important. It is also important to remember that hospital patient with superbugs go home- they are everywhere in the community. It is not just healthcare worker who may be spreading superbugs!

      • No way! Totally impractical. I am also a home health nurse. I live in Texas and most of the time it hits upper 90s and above. Besides, I am getting in and out of my car. An apron for each patient? You’ve got to be kidding me. The best I can do is carry one or two extra sets of scrubs in the car and change if I’ve been in an especially dirty environment. I will not change at the patient’s house, I have to hunt for a public restroom. I carry antibacterial hospital grade wipes, bleach, and other cleaning supplies. Home health nurses have to navigate biting dogs, shedding cats, hoarder environments where not only are you unable to sit to conduct an interview, there is no flat surface to lay out your supplies. We sit on the floor to do would care on morbidly obese patients including 4 layer wraps, wound vacs, soaking their feet, etc. If I have to drag a chair, a stool, a TV tray table, my toolkit and a 50 lb bag of bandage supplies up 3 flights of stairs……it gets pretty ridiculous.

  60. Not everyone who wears scrubs are exposed to super bugs. I wear scrubs to work everyday as I am in the imaging field but I work in a private practice where I’m not exposed to hospital germs. That doesn’t make me contagious and this article will make me and others like myself a target for those who are germophibic.

    • How, exactly, do you ensure that the multitude of patients who come through your door for imaging do not have an a symptomatic case of MRSA? Or drug resistant tuberculosis? You may be exposed, and never know, because your immune system is strong enough to shrug off the exposure.

  61. Household wash machines often cannot reach required temperature that kill superbugs and spores. Industrial laundry where hospital linen is processed reaches temps needed. They are monitored for these features.
    Good luck getting profit driven corporations and those that claim not for profit for tax purposes to provide scrubs for people in surgery and the rest of the hospital. It cuts into their cost and profit.
    Only when regulated with Joint Commision or other accrediting bodies will most execs comply.

    • S, you are so right about Healthcare executive Leadership (at least where I work) “Only when regulated with Joint Commision or other accrediting bodies will most execs comply.” I couldn’t agree more, in fact I have seen this occur. Sadly, the outcome of this experience causes employees to under-report potentially harmful practices because they know they will be ignored, brushed off, considered a trouble maker.

  62. I cringe, for all the reasons listed in the article. Further, it conveys the wrong impression. You look haggard, tired, scrubs wrinkled or evidently unclean at the end of 12-16 hr shift. The typical person who sees that on the street doesn’t think “Boy, she looks bad. Must of had a really bone cruncher day”. My guess would be is that most people think “Geez, she looks awful. It isn’t very professional. I hope that she is never my nurse.” While that takes some conjecture on my part, the typical person has no idea what we do. Thus, average Joe Public has no frame of reference to think critically about an appearance.

  63. I believe that scrubs should stay in Hospital/clinics to prevent bacteria/germs from leaving. Also, when I return home I immediately take off my shoes and leave at door for same reason.

    • JExcellent topic of discussion and many great insights. I was in a major grocery store yesterday (04/07/20) a week or so after our states Governor had declared lock down, Dr, Fauci and the President recommended masks in public. I was dismayed to see at least 2 people in scrubs (can’t assume they were nurses or healthcare professionals), however neither one of them was wearing a mask. My immediate reaction was to get as far away from them as possible. Long story short. SCRUBS SHOULD NOT BE WORN IN PUBLIC PLACES. even more critical in the days of COVID 19.

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