How would you like to have a doctor examine you without putting on gloves? How about a nurse taking blood or giving you a shot without gloves? Would you take medications that were handed to you after they were in the bare hand of the caregiver? Today we take things like medical professionals wearing gloves while performing their duties. Actually about 100 years ago, you would have said, “Yes” to the above questions even though you probably wouldn’t today.
We are used to seeing medical professionals dressed in scrubs whenever we are in a hospital, doctor’s office, or clinic. In fact, it is difficult for us to even imagine a surgeon entering a sterile room without being dressed in a pair of scrubs. This was not always the case, just like latex gloves, scrubs have only been a part of the medical world for less than 100 years now.
It wasn’t until the 1900’s that surgeons actually began to wear scrubs and at first it wasn’t very common. Until then the surgeon simply wore street clothes while performed the surgery in an operating theater. Of course, there were some times when a surgeon would put on a butcher apron so that the patient’s blood wouldn’t stain his clothes. However, they would use their bare hands and non-sterile instruments to do the surgical procedure with. As such, a good surgeon was known by the amount of bodily fluids he actually had on his clothing because it was believed he was working a lot.
When the firs protective gear was finally worn it was in order to protect the surgeons, not the patients. In fact, it wasn’t until after a serious outbreak of the Spanish flu in 1918, that surgeons actually began wearing cotton gauze masks, while they did surgery.
With the arrival of Lister’s theory on antiseptics, surgeons began wearing rubber or latex gloves. This was meant to protect the doctor’s hands from the cleaning solutions that were used on surgical equipment and in the facilities themselves.
It wasn’t until the 1940’s that modern scrubs were actually born. It was at this time that advanced aseptic techniques were also developed in order to keep both the patients and their surgeons safe. This is because wound infection began being recognized, thus making cleanliness a priority. During this time antiseptic gowns and drapes were also created for use within operating rooms. Instruments, dressings, and supplies started being sterilized, too. The first garments were white because this color represented cleanliness and were easy to bleach to sanitize. However, when these white garments were combined with the bright lights within the operating rooms, surgical personnel began getting eyestrain. As surgeons and other operating room staff began realizing that this was happening, colored scrubs were created and green became the new color of scrubs.
By the 1960’s most hospitals got rid of white uniforms in favor of green scrubs. Not only did these help to minimize eyestrain but it also helped to make blood strains look less obvious. There are still a lot of facilities that are using these same green scrubs today. Oftentimes the hospital’s name is even embroidered on the scrubs.
In the 1970’s modernized scrubs were created. The typical set included a pair of pull-on pants that had a drawstring waist and a short-sleeved V-neck shirt. A tieback cap was often worn with a gauze mask, surgical gown, latex gloves, and closed shoes. Due to their green color, these were oftentimes referred to as surgical greens. They are known scrubs because medical personnel originally wore them in places that are scrubbed clean and that they must be scrubbed clean before entering (like an operating room).
Now, not only are medical professionals be wearing gloves to protect themselves and the patients, they also will probably be wearing nursing scrubs. For those who work in the medical field, they go to uniform suppliers like All Uniform Wear to shop on line for low cost scrubs or to shop in their retail stores.
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