Scrubs: What you don't see is what you get

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					                          Salon                                                                                                                                             CMAJ


                          Scrubs: What you don’t see is what you get

                          I
                               hung the stethoscope around my                            pitals, thereby promoting public              the hospital.4 At a time when hospital-
                               neck, tucked the reflex hammer into                       awareness of the problem, is another          acquired infection is the fourth leading
                               my scrub pocket and clipped the                           step in the right direction.1                 killer of patients in North American
                          pager onto my shirt. It was my first                              While we in Canada have made               hospitals, such drastic measures seem
                          night on-call as a medical student on the                      tremendous progress in preventing the         hardly out of place.5
                          general surgery service. My first page                         spread of nosocomial infections in myr-            Just the other day, I was in my car
                          was to attend to a patient with chest                          iad ways, we are behind our counter-          with my dad. The roads were especially
                          pain; it was heartburn. My pager went                          parts in other countries with respect to      busy, and being a father, he kept re-
                          off again: a patient with a possible case                      hospital clothing practices. In 2007, the     minding me about the importance of
                          of appendicitis. And so the evening                            United Kingdom’s National Health              checking my blind spot each time I
                          passed, until 1 am. I decided to grab a                        System (NHS) recommended a “bare              made a lane change. “Remember, son,
                          late dinner at a nearby restaurant.                            below the elbows” dress code to dis-          it’s what you can’t see that can hurt you
                              On my way back, it suddenly struck                                                                       and others around you,” he said. Noth-
                          me that I had worn my scrubs in the                                                                          ing could be closer to the truth regard-
                          restaurant after being around sick pa-                                                                       ing hospital infections as well. As for
                          tients all day — that I could have trans-                                                                    me, I’m still checking my blind spot —
                          ferred hospital superbugs to the cashier                                                                     both on the road and in the hospital.
                          with whom I had exchanged money or
                          to the person who would later sit at my                                                                      George Puthenpurayil Jacob BSc
                          table. I have since then been very care-                                                                     Medical student (class of 2010)
                          ful about not wearing my scrubs in                                                                           Schulich School of Medicine and
                          public. I also became more aware of                                                                           Dentistry
                          others who do so at malls, in grocery                                                                        University of Western Ontario
                                                                        Fred Sebastian




                          stores and crowded buses. This obser-                                                                        London, Ont.
                          vation pushed me to investigate
                          whether official policies existed regard-
                                                                                                                                       REFERENCES
                          ing this practice.                                                                                           1.     Patient safety. In: Public information [website of
                              I found no information on the web-                                                                              Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care].
                          site of the hospital where I trained.                                                                               Available: www.health.gov.on.ca/patient_safety/
                                                                                                                                              public/ps_pub.html (accessed 2009 Mar. 27).
       
				
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