Most professionals may be diligent about washing their hands, but often overlook that their scrubs may be carrying, and potentially aiding in the transfer of resilient and deadly pathogens to both the public and their loved ones at home. Multiple studies have confirmed the contamination of healthcare workers’ surgical scrubs. A study in the American Journal of Infection Control by the University of Arizona found that 79% of the unwashed operating room scrubs tested were positive for gram positive cocci. A similar finding from an international study at Southmead Hospital (Bristol, UK) and published in the Journal of Hospital Infection found 54% of sampled scrubs were contaminated with C-Diff, MRSA, and/or VRE.
What enhances the concern for contaminated scrubs is the life span of these dangerous pathogens. A study at the University of Cincinnati and published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology, concluded both MRSA and VRE isolates can survive for up to 90 days on hospital fabrics such as surgical scrubs, lab coats and privacy drapes.
The resilience of these dangerous pathogens is why home laundered scrubs are under scrutiny. The two studies referenced above also tested nurses’ scrubs prior to the start of their day. The University of Arizona study found that 44% of the home laundered scrubs sampled were contaminated with gram positive cocci, and the Southmead study found that 39% tested positive for C-Diff, MRSA, and/or VRE.