History of Scrub Suits
In the 19th century, Florence Nightingale and her first cohort of nurses at St Thomas’ Hospital wore black dresses with a white apron and cuffs. The colour black was used because it could be bleached easily, and it was more practical for the time. The nurse’s uniform changed again when surgeons began wearing white gowns to make it easier for them to see blood and other bodily fluids. Historically, scrubs were only worn in operating rooms where the colour of choice was white.
Scrub suits in Healthcare
The colour white is synonymous with cleanliness and sterility. In operating rooms, cleanliness is essential and that might be one of the reasons why you still find white scrubs being worn in the operating room. Scrubs have become de rigueur in most healthcare facilities as they are comfortable and functional for nurses in light of the work that they do.
Why WHITE scrub suits were common in the past
Colourful uniforms were worn by nurses during World War I when they were in the military. In World War II, hospitals returned to using white uniforms because they were easy to clean and sterilise. The idea that white uniforms are easier to clean is a myth, as they require more bleach than other colours. It also takes more work to keep them looking pristine, as they show stains more easily. Other reasons why hospitals may choose white uniforms are that they are cheaper to produce (no dye needed) and that they look crisp and professional.
Coloured scrub suits and their effects on patients
Blue is a calming and soothing colour. When a patient sees a blue-clad nurse enter the room, it helps to calm them down. This might be one of the reasons why blue is also widely used in healthcare facilities.
Green may not be as popular as blue but it is still widely used in hospitals as well. It may also have something to do with cleanliness and sterility because green also resembles nature’s colour which brings about feelings of tranquility, healing and renewal.
Use scrub colours to define roles
However, many hospitals are implementing new programs to increase morale and help patients identify healthcare workers. Some hospitals are choosing to use more fun colours like yellow, purple, and teal. Others are using different coloured scrubs based on department or position (ex: surgical nurses wear navy blue scrubs). Wearing colourful scrubs can be linked with positive patient outcomes – patients who are hospitalised for longer periods of time often benefit from seeing bright colours in their environment.
While there is no definitive answer as to what colour nurses should wear; the majority of hospitals still prefer a blue or green scrub.
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