Scrubs: What you don’t see is what you get
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
stores and crowded buses. This obser- London, Ont.
vation pushed me to investigate
whether official policies existed regard-
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).