The spread of infection occurs more frequently in hospitals and health care facilities. Healthcare workers are at risk of infection by interacting with patients and being in environments where infection is active. The lack of strong control programs increases outbreaks of multidrug-resistant bacteria and disease. Healthcare facility owners should encourage the use of protective gear such as scrubs to minimize the spread of infection. Medical scrubs are protective clothing in pants and shirts that are loose but comfortable and designed to prevent direct contact of liquids with the body.
Medical scrubs act as a barrier, separating the health care worker’s body from pathogens. As an important part of personal protective equipment, these garments protect the wearer from infection. They minimize threats by creating an extra layer of protection against direct contact with infectious agents.
How Medical Scrubs Protect Healthcare Workers from Infection
Medical scrubs are designed to prevent the spread of pathogens and infectious agents. They do this by creating a strong barrier between the wearer’s skin and bacteria. The fabric used to make many medical scrubs is tightly woven, which helps trap pathogens and prevent them from coming into contact with your body.
Second, they absorb or repel fluids and disease-causing elements. Scrubs made from liquid-resistant and moisture-wicking fabric can easily resist the build-up of liquids or absorb them. For example, they absorb body fluids and blood, preventing the contact and spread of harmful pathogens.
Third, medical protective clothing creates a defensive barrier against infections in intensive care units and hospitals. This minimizes the risk of cross-contamination and ensures that infectious agents are not transferred from one patient to another through contaminated surfaces.
Medical Scrub Fabrics: Why They’re Important
The secret to the longevity and usability of medical scrubs lies in the quality and workmanship of the fabric. Healthcare facilities require extremely high levels of cleaning and disinfection. This means cleaning your scrub regularly. Therefore, choose durable fabrics that can withstand repeated washing and regular wear and tear. It should be machine washable and easy to clean. Materials that can withstand high temperatures are the best choice.
The fabric of medical scrubs should be breathable to prevent excessive sweating and discomfort. Additionally, the fabric should be liquid-resistant to protect you from body fluids and blood. Polycotton and similar blends have stood the test of time and are able to withstand frequent sanitizing and laundering.
When shopping for matte fabrics, look for fabrics with excellent antimicrobial properties, especially those treated with copper and silver nanoparticles. Such materials inhibit the growth of microorganisms and bacteria, reducing the spread of infection.
Choosing a Top-Rated Scrub to Prevent Infection: Things to Consider
Healthcare providers must work in a safe environment that protects their patients and themselves, and preventing the spread of infection is critical. Since healthcare professionals deal with a large number of patients every day, it is crucial to choose a medical scrub that meets the following requirements:
Fabric and quality
The fabric of your scrub affects various aspects of its cost, effectiveness, reliability, and durability. Choose high-quality fabrics that are breathable and fluid-resistant. Fabrics should feature the latest moisture-wicking technology and an effective antimicrobial coating. Look for scrubs that are certified by organizations like the Association for the Advancement of Medical Devices. All these features ensure the scrub achieves maximum effectiveness in preventing the spread of infection.
Care and washing requirements
Since scrubs are worn every day, they need to be washed frequently. In fact, scrubs must be washed daily with hot water and a suitable detergent. Additionally, drying takes place at high temperatures since you need the clothes immediately. So look for a scrub that can withstand high temperatures, be machine washed and dried, and stay clean all day long.
Fit and comfort
You’ll be using scrubs every day, so it’s important to avoid uncomfortable and restrictive ones. However, the fit should be tight and comfortable; form-fitting medical scrubs should be avoided as they can be uncomfortable to wear all day long and may lead to cross-contamination.
Pockets and folds
It is convenient to have folds and pockets in medical garments and bags as they allow medical supplies and equipment to be transported easily. However, too many pockets and folds can become dangerous as they can trap bacteria and germs, ultimately increasing the risk of contamination. To improve infection control in healthcare settings, consider implementing color-coded uniforms for different roles and departments. This will help identify sources of contamination and optimize hygiene practices.
Maintain and clean scrub for optimal protection
- Washing and handling medical scrubs is different than other industries. Healthcare providers must follow strict protocols, including proper disinfection, use of appropriate cleaning agents, and high-temperature cleaning. According to the Joint Commission, “To our knowledge, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) does not have any requirements for laundering surgical gowns or uniforms. However, according to the Joint Commission and CMS recommendations, organizations should refer to evidence-based best practice guidance and consider adopting them. Examples of guidance include the Association for Perioperative Nursing (AORN) Surgical Garment Guidelines (effective July 1, 2019), the Association of Surgical Technologists’ AST Best Practice Guidelines for Laundered Scrubs (2017 Revised April 14) and the American College of Surgeons Statement on Operating Room Dress (Approved July 2016).”
Some of the guidelines in the AST Standards of Practice for Surgical Gowns, Surgical Scrubs, Hand Hygiene, and Handwashing include:
- Wash scrub at temperatures above 140 degrees Fahrenheit,
- Dry the scrub at a high temperature to kill viruses and bacteria.
- Do not wash scrub with personal clothing, and
- Inspect your scrubs thoroughly for any signs of damage or wear and replace any scrubs found to be damaged or in poor condition.
For more information on resources for surgical gown policy development, see here.
To ensure proper handling of your scrub, it’s important to follow these guidelines:
– Store your scrub in a clean, dry environment to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold.
– Always wear coveralls when entering the patient care room.
– Remove surgical gown immediately after leaving the patient care room.
-Use extreme care when handling scrubs to minimize the spread of contaminants.
– Remove and clean contaminated scrubs as soon as possible.
Beyond Scrubs: Other Steps to Prevent Infection
Health care infection prevention doesn’t center around scrubs. They are an indispensable tool, but are only useful if other measures are implemented. Many other practices can minimize the spread of infection within health care centers, including:
Regular professional training and workshops: Regularly scheduled workshops and training sessions provide your staff with the skills and knowledge they need to minimize the spread of infection inside and outside the healthcare facility.
Encouraging good hygiene practices inside and outside hospitals can reduce the spread of infection. By washing hands frequently, keeping the hospital clean, and using clean care materials, we can prevent the spread of germs and bacteria.
Promoting the use of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) in healthcare settings is critical to ensure optimal service delivery and minimize the risk of infection. Every worker in the healthcare industry should wear medical-grade goggles, gloves and masks when performing tests and procedures that come in contact with blood and body fluids.
Ensuring the safety of healthcare facilities is our shared responsibility. From CEOs and managers to social workers and healthcare providers, everyone must remain vigilant to maintain the health and safety of patients and colleagues. Wearing a surgical gown is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of infection and maintain patient safety. Other effective ways to achieve hospital safety include maintaining high levels of hygiene and promoting the use of personal protective equipment.