This article was scary to read.  Hospital Scrubs Deadly Mess

So maybe they aren’t weapons, but they can cause infections.

Can the answer be as simple as having the hospital wash scrubs?

Until about 20 years ago, nearly all hospitals laundered scrubs for their staff. A few hospitals are returning to that policy. St. Mary’s Health Center in St. Louis, Mo., reduced infections after cesarean births by more than 50% by giving all caregivers hospital-laundered scrubs, as well as requiring them to wear two layers of gloves.

Seems like an easy answer to me.  To my nurse readers out there, what do you think?

This also shows why for low risk moms homebirth could be safer.  Less exposure to germs.  I know as a doula I always jump in the shower and put on CLEAN clothes before heading to a birth.  I don’t want to bring any of my house germs to a birth.

On a similar note, Should Hospitals Ban Neckties?

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13 Comments

  1. My hospital provides scrubs for us (L and D nurses) because we might have to go to C/S at some point and we circulate—it’s a perk that I really enjoy and I firmly believe that it helps reduce infection.

  2. I’m a little floored here — I assumed that hospitals would have been doing this all along! Just like they wash sheets and blankets, and sterilize (or get single-use sterile) items, that scrubs would be thoroughly sanitized! Is it possible that hospital personnel are washing their scrubs with their regular laundry — kitchen towels and pooped-on onesies? Maybe it gets clean, but do they get sanitized? If I worked at a hospital, I wouldn’t want to be bringing in germ-y clothes home; nor would I want to take my “home germs” to the hospital.

    Like this article about bacteria mutating to become resistant to both disinfectants and antibiotics mentioned, “Research was published this year showing that the disinfecting wipes used to protect against MRSA could in fact spread the bug, as the solution contained was often not sufficient to kill all the bacteria picked up, and hospital staff often used the same wipe to clean more than one surface. ” Ugh!

    Um, maybe we should boil the clothes to kill all the bugs??

    Jill Reply:

    I always assumed this too. I’m a little shocked that it’s not true.

    However, would wearing two pairs of gloves cause friction between them and make them more likely to tear? I don’t know if it’s the same as condoms, I know you’re not supposed to wear more than one of those…

    atyourcervix Reply:

    You’re right Jill. Wearing more than one pair of gloves does increase friction in between the gloves, and makes them more susceptible to breaking down.

  3. I read something somewhere (oh it is in Superfreakonomics I think) where Doctors wearing ties were spreading infection too…and certain hospital systems had outlawed them on workers.

    I’m not to susprised actually.

  4. Oh…I see you have already done a post on that…oops

  5. Margaret

    I also assumed that scrubs would be laundered by the hospital. I think it’s slightly different here in Australia – most nurses I’ve seen have other uniforms and only get into scrubs when they go to surgery, although surgical staff would wear them around within the hospital (cafeteria etc).

    I have wondered about all the nurses who wear their ID tags/keys etc on lanyards, which dangle all over everything as much as – if not more than – doctors’ ties… Those freak me out more than ties (at least the doctor might conceivably rotate the tie collection).

  6. We are supplied with hospital laundered scrubs at work on L&D. Some nurses wear them, while others bring in their own home-laundered scrubs. We never wear our scrubs outside of the hospital (at least, I don’t…but I have seen other nurses on other units wearing them outside of the hospital). We are also forbidden from wearing any lab coats/warm up jackets in the OR during c-sections, due to the increased germs on the jackets (and minimal washing done with them! ICK!)

  7. I get freaked out when I see nurses outside smoking and then they come in and serve people. If a nurse has been in a room with an infected person (how would you know) and put her monitors right on her body, leaned against her…then came in and put her body against me to do the same…then put an IV in (with gloves, but still, touching and leaning and the like) could I get sick? I think about the times I’ve been in there in street clothes for an NST, and they go from me to a woman in labor down the hall.

    My grandma was a nurse and she laundered her own hospital scrubs…she was on the coronary care unit. I just don’t know how sterile they would be.

    Kathy Reply:

    This reminds me of this story about a woman who died, possibly from an infected epidural line — the family claim that the anesthesiologist touched objects (like his pager or cell phone) after putting on sterile gloves but before administering the epi, and that this contamination led to her infection and subsequent death. [The hospital is claiming that she must have been sick prior to admittance, as fast as the infection killed her.]

  8. Yes, I think neckties should be banned. Dan’s hospital washes their scrubs.

  9. DH is an MRI tech, not the same, but I launder all his scrubs and lab coats.
    I have a neigbor who is a SW at a childrens hospital and she washes her own scrubs, I know she doesn’t provide care the way a nurse would, but she isn’t really a “clean” person in general and I often see her wearing her scrubs all day and am a little grossed out at the thought of her in the hospital…
    Down with ties!

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