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Survey: Infection Prevention Experts Believe Commuting in Scrubs Creates Risk

Posted December 11, 2017 at 9:52 am

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At more than half of the healthcare facilities polled in a recent survey by TRSA, workers are allowed to wear scrubs home, and wear them into work, yet infection preventionists at these facilities overwhelmingly say that these practices present a risk to the public and to patients.

TRSA conducted the survey in November 2017 among 1,400 infection prevention experts at hospitals and healthcare facilities. The key findings present a disparity between actual practices, the measures necessary to contain the risk of infection:

  • At your facility, are employees allowed to clean scrubs at home? Yes: 54 percent
  • At your facility, are employees allowed to wear scrubs into the hospital prior to beginning work? Yes: 60 percent
  • Do you believe that wearing scrubs into the hospital facility from home presents an infection or contamination risk to patients? Yes: 80 percent
  • Do you believe that wearing scrubs home from the hospital presents an infection or contamination risk from the hospital to those outside/general public? Yes: 87 percent

Further, while nearly three-fourths of those surveyed have a policy in place regarding laundering scrubs, those policies varied by job function; and more than one quarter had no policy in place at all.

“The survey addresses perceptions and policies regarding the likelihood that even non-surgical scrubs can present a risk of infection when worn into and out of the healthcare environment,” said TRSA CEO Joseph Ricci. “These facilities should be professionally laundering all scrubs at facilities that have been properly certified in order to reduce infection. The survey also indicates that the people become uncomfortable seeing healthcare workers in scrubs in public. For that reason alone, there should at least be consistent policies in place.”

The research follows up TRSA’s 2015 surveys of consumers and industry customers that indicated an overwhelming segment of both the public and healthcare decision makers agree that lab coats, scrubs, gowns and other garments laundered by linen and uniform services are cleaner and more hygienic:

  • 82% of healthcare facility decision makers feel rented lab coats, gowns, scrubs and uniforms are more hygienic
  • 83% of consumers say a professional launderer provides a cleaner lab coat vs. workers cleaning those coats themselves
  • 68% of consumers are concerned when seeing medical professionals wearing scrubs outside of a medical facility

The survey was completed by more than 100 experts in infection prevention at facilities nationwide.