Should Doctors Wear Scrubs or Lab Coats?

  • November 01, 2018
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  • Superior Linen Service
What do doctors wear

What do doctors wear? This question, when posed to a child or your average Joe, would probably elicit what the non-medical community mostly associates as the “look” for doctors.

Otherwise known as formal wear – long-sleeved button-down dress shirts and blouses, with formal trousers and and leather shoes (and the kind with low heels for women) underneath the proverbial white coat.

But over the last decade or so, the medical community has started to ditch the white coat and opted for semi-formal – even casual – clothing on their medical rounds and sometimes, even scrubs that leave doctors with little distinction from the rest of the hospital staff.

The White Coat is Up for Debate

white coat debate

The discussions surrounding the white coat have been numerous and rife with contradicting evidence. Critics of white lab coats commonly cite a couple of reasons for doctors to finally hang up the white coat, including white coat hypertension, its possible complicity in the spread of infectious diseases, the outright refusal of medical professionals themselves to wear the uniforms for the inconvenience and the seeming impossibility of white coat care and maintenance.

But the opinions are contradicting. Some studies have debunked other studies claiming white coats are unhygienic. According to these studies, though white coats inevitably grab pathogens over the course of a shift, there is little evidence to prove that they can actively transmit these infectious organisms. Traditionalists in the profession are also wary of completely hanging up the white coat for reasons of distinction and its emblematic value to the profession.

The debate is further complicated when overall patient perception and satisfaction regarding what doctors wear is thrown into the conversation. The question “what do doctors wear?” becomes a matter of “what should doctors wear – that patients will approve of?” The fact that the majority of medical facilities do not have a clear-cut dress code for doctors does not help ease the polarizing opinions on what doctors should wear.

This leaves us hanging and in need of answers to the question: “What do doctors wear?”

But what exactly are the merits of the common choices? Should doctors wear scrubs and casual wear or should they remain loyal to the emblem of the profession?

The Pragmatic Doctor’s Choice: Scrubs

30% of doctors polled in an informal study preferred scrubs and casual wear when dealing with patients. And this preference is not surprising. Scrubs are not only more versatile compared to stiff formal and business wear but they’re definitely more comfortable to move around in. Not to mention, scrubs are easier to maintain and clean compared to white coats.

In terms of patient perception, scrubs are not such a bad way to go – but only if they are worn by surgeons or emergency physicians. This is according to a recent University of Michigan poll that found that 34% of 4,000 respondents said scrubs are an acceptable and preferable apparel choice for doctors in the emergency and surgery posts.

Patient Favorite: The Classic White Coat

That same poll, however, found that the most preferred apparel is still the formal dress shirt with the white coat – especially among senior patients. This preference for formal wear with the white coat is especially favored by patients in office settings. However, the white coat preference falls short for emergency physicians, with only 44% of patients preferring the white coat in the emergency room.

But doctors who cannot decide between scrubs and formal wear with white coat should not fret: a handful of patients also preferred that their attending doctors wear white coats donned over their scrub suits in both emergency and office settings.

This offers a practical resolution on the debate between what do doctors wear and what they should actually wear when dealing with patients.

Deciding What’s Right for Your Doctors

While practicality is what drives the choices healthcare professionals make in terms of workwear, patient perception matters, not only because patient satisfaction is now an important deciding category but because patients are the most important players in healthcare.

To reconcile these points, the best solution for doctors is to find a professional medical apparel service provider that will ensure a steady supply of topnotch quality scrubs and white coats at every shift. Nobody, really, in the time-consuming, physically-draining world of the overworked medical professional has the time to soak and scrub their professional apparel. Hiring a reliable medical uniform service provider not only alleviates these physical burdens but also addresses concerns about the quality of cleanliness of the scrubs and the lab coats.

Get the help you need from a medical linen and apparel specialist like Superior Linen Service! The options are endless and our services are always up to standards. Call us today at 253-383-2636 to learn more about what we can do for you!

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