What Uniform Does a Surgical Tech Wear and Does It Ever Differ?

What Uniform Does a Surgical Tech Wear and Does It Ever Differ?

Apr 11, 2015 | 12:00 pm

Surgical Scrubs

Surgical scrubs are almost always the uniform of choice for surgical personnel. When laboring over a broken femur or sewing a new coronary artery graft down, most surgeons and their helpers tend to perspire, whether out of physical or psychological stress.

The disposable part of the surgical tech uniform is the gown, gloves, cap, shoe covers, mask and protective goggles that are worn to protect the patient from microbes and the surgical tech from the patient’s blood. All of these coverings also cause the body to become responsive to room temperature and humidity changes during the course of the day.

Scrubs used to be white – the color of cleanliness. Then, in the early twentieth century, one influential doctor switched to green because he thought it would be easier on the surgeon’s eyes, according to an article in a 1998 issue of Today’s Surgical Nurse. Although it is hard to confirm whether green scrubs became popular for this reason, green may be especially well suited to help doctors see in the operating room because it is opposite of red on the color wheel.

Each hospital or facility using scrubs for uniforms has a policy on when and where scrubs can be worn and when they should be changed. Historically, it was thought that hospital laundered scrubs were mandatory. This insured that they had not been worn outside the building or around other departments where some contagious pathogen may have landed on a sleeve, only to be dropped off inside a patient’s open belly causing a life threatening post-operative infection.

The norm was that a cover-up or clean white lab coat should be worn over the scrubs when outside the department that the uniformed scrub tech would be working. This was thought to be instrumental in preventing the spread of operating room germs in the cafeteria, as well as keeping food germs outside the operating room.

Outside Personnel

There has also been, historically, policies that prevented maintenance personnel, family members in delivery rooms, and sales reps from entering the operating rooms with clothing in which they may have fixed a sewer line. Also, sales representatives go from one hospital to another all day, bringing all types of pathogens in and out of operating rooms everywhere. When hospitals allow this kind of cross contamination, patients all over the country pay dearly with a huge increased risk of lethal infections that take incredible lengths to recover.

This type of lackadaisical techniques also cost the patients and hospitals millions of dollars every year due to infection rates and loss of funding due to reporting methods of these infections.

The best policy is for the surgical tech uniform to remain a priority in the profession. It is up to individual nurses and technicians to take pride in their profession, keeping the patient’s wellbeing first on their priority list.


Scrubs should be laundered in the hospital. They should not be worn home for families of spouses and small children to be exposed to blood born pathogens brought home from an operating room. In the same right, scrubs laundered at home have come across parking lots and into the operating room where patients are open to these particles, thereby nullifying any real attempts to prevent infection and exposure to outside pathogens.

There have been studies done that prove that germ counts in washing machines of homes where surgical scrubs are laundered; regularly have higher amounts of E.coli and Staphylococcus strains.