In the not to distant future, medical uniforms and scrubs are going to change in dramatic fashion. New uniform products are being constructed to include antimicrobial fabrics and may even include a liquid barrier designed to completely repel all liquids including blood. The purpose of these newly designed scrubs is to prevent the spread of bacteria and other microorganisms from contact with medical uniforms and medical scrubs worn by healthcare professionals in contact with potentially infected patients. It is unclear at this time whether these antimicrobial repellent uniforms are effective in limiting the transmission of bacteria, or are simply a means to a marketing tool being used by scrub manufacturers in order to sell more scrubs. In fact, if the new generation of scrubs is found to have profound merit, it could produce an avalanche of new uniform purchases.
The topic is not new. Dating back to 2008, a study was presented at the 48th Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy in Washington DC. It revealed that uniforms worn by medical personnel were not considered important in the transmission of microorganisms. The investigation included the evidence, or lack thereof, of the rate of potentially pathogenic bacteria present on uniforms worn by hospital personnel, as well as the bacterial load of these microorganisms. A total of 238 samples were collected from 135 healthcare workers, including 65 nurses and 75 physicians. After intensive testing, it was concluded that up to 60% of hospital workers uniforms are colonized with potentially pathogenic bacteria including drug resistant organisms. However, it remains unclear whether such bacteria is able to be transferred to patients causing clinically relevant infection.
An informal survey conducted by Discount Medical Uniforms determined that in virtually no cases did healthcare personnel believe the transfer of bacteria or other microorganisms from patients to their uniforms or scrubs resulted in the passage of disease. The antimicrobial component associated with the new uniforms was developed by Dow Chemical. What is clear is that if the new style uniforms are adopted. they will be more expensive than traditional scrubs. While such uniforms are currently not available, they will be in the very near future. The delivery time frame is as little as sixty days.
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