Wednesday, February 8, 2017


Hospital scrubs in public places.

An associate editor of "The Atlantic" saw some people in scrubs having lunch in a restaurant and was, of course, horrified. She questioned the magazine’s medical editor, Dr. James Hamblin.

Hamblin pointed out that it might not have been doctors because everyone, including secretaries (and even custodial people in my hospital), now wears scrubs to work. Dr. Hamblin rightly added that there is a lot of debate about the issue. But, importantly, there is no evidence that bacteria on scrubs spread disease. Nor is there evidence that bacteria on other objects such as ties, white coats, cell phones, stethoscopes, computer keyboards, or numerous other articles shown to be contaminated has made people sick.

So your gut feeling has not been shown to be scientifically accurate.

In addition to the large number of ancillary hospital personnel who wear scrubs, anyone can buy them. Scrubs are not just issued, they are sold in stores. They come in all colors, even camouflage. And they make great pajamas. Or softball uniforms, blues vs. greens. He speculated that some guys wear scrubs in public as a signal to women that they are doctors.

But at the end of the piece, he said it was OK if his colleague were to “tell off” the people she saw eating lunch in scrubs.

Read that again. There is no evidence that the people wearing the scrubs were hospital people but, even if they were, there is no evidence that can create any problems. Nonetheless, you are encouraged to vent your unfounded opinion in a loud, obnoxious, anti-social way so that you can feel better about yourself.

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