Should medical staff only wear their uniforms in place of work?

September 2, 2008 10:12am CST
How often are we hearing about hospital acquired infections, wards shutting due to "the winter vomiting bug", MRSA etc...etc...? I have always been interested in nursing and when I was at school I did my work experience in a hospital. Back then (about 25 years ago) Hospitals had very strict rules and regulations and I feel very strongly that they should be brought back ie., We were NOT under any circumstances allowed to wear our uniforms outwith the hospital. We were NOT allowed jewellery. We were NOT allowed make-up and we HAD to have our hair tied up at all times. I remember thinking at the time that they were being a bit strict but if you actually think about it, it was good hygienic sense. To begin with, lets take jewellery - the amount of bacteria that collects in the crevices of rings, bracelets, watches and necklaces is amazing. That bacteria could easily be transferred into wounds or equipment. Uniforms were simple and yet clean and fresh. Because you were only allowed to wear them in the hospital there was no chance of carrying in germs from outside. It angers me so much when I see nurses, doctors, care workers walking around supermarkets/shops etc., before going in to their work. What have they brushed against? What bacteria or germs could now be on their uniforms that they then pass on to patients etc? Likewise, if they are dealing with an infected patient and then wear the uniform outside, they could similarly pass on infection to others. I often see care workers sitting in cafes during their lunch hours knowing that they are dealing with vulnerable people afterwards. The whole nursing attitude has changed. Matrons used to run wards and run it they did well. Not many people liked them because they were so strict but that had its advantages because nursing staff would NOT be able to cut corners - it just wouldnt have been allowed. Whilst visiting my Father in Law in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary I was horrified! He was in the Intensive care unit and before visiting you were supposed to use the provided hand gel. There was also a notice to say that if you had a cold/virus/bug etc., you were to refrain from visiting. Fine - noone disagreed with that. However!!!! We went along one day to find the hand gel empty so we asked if another one could be put up so we could go in to visit - We were told, just to go in that they would sort it later. Secondly, whilst visiting my Father in Law, one of the intensive care nurses was sneezing and coughing with a bad cold. My Mother in Law began to feel her throat becoming sore and said to one of the staff that she should probably go and not visit for a few days but was told - "Oh, don't worry about it, we've all got colds at the moment". My Father in Law who had been put in there as a precaution after major surgery developed a bad infection in his bowel (which had not even been operated on) and sadly died of MRSA. I would be interested to know other people's opinions on this subject.
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5 responses
• United States
13 Oct 08
MRSA is a very scary occurance. My son battles with it continually. I absolutely think medical personel should only wear their uniforms at work, and strip them off and wash them as soon as they get home. The risk is both ways- to others and ourselves. Good Handwashing technique. I have made medical personel wash their hand upon enterance of my hospital room. Oh and don't wear a pair of gloves into my room. That is just disgusting. Wash your hands and then put them on in MY room. We weren't allowed to wear rings and other jewlery in the ICU. I think those types of precautions need to be taken in all units not just special care units. There was no excuse for that nurse not to go home. That was just plain careless. SHe should have worn a mask for respiratory precaution. Especially in ICU. People ARE there for the health of it. It really is too bad that the medical field at large isn't more careful with the health they have been entrusted with. I have met wonderful doctors and nurses that are responsible, it's just hard to think unbiased when you see the majority doing the wrong thing.
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@gabbana (1815)
• China
2 Sep 08
hi, very distinctive question you raised and it is worth considering. i bet no one would like to wear a uniform after work, but as a medical staff who is able to offer some help under emergency, i guess, why not use a badge or other sign to indicate their special identity instead of wearing uniforms all the time?
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@Serath (86)
• South Africa
2 Sep 08
My word that is bad. I am so sorry to hear about your Father in Law. That kind of neglegence in an ICU is just plain irresponsible. I have heart valve problems and if I were in an ICU after a major operation or event, I can easily pick up heart disease or infection if they don't follow the rules. I am not even allowed to have a dentist work on my teeth without anti-biotics. I would say that definately thos working in areas such as "Infectious Diseases" or some such, should definately not walk around in their nurses uniforms. But even normal wards can be hazerdous. I am sure that many a time a patient vomits on a nurse or a nurse has to clean it up and if she just cleans it off with a wet cloth, I shudder to think what's going to happen to the next patient she attends to or the general public she gets into contact with. Sure, we can't have everything 100% perfect, but I definately agree with the fact that they should change out of their uniforms before going home.
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@jonesy123 (3950)
• United States
2 Sep 08
Wow, there is definitely something wrong with that place. It's intensive care! And MRSA is a virus naturally found in the nose. So, if they had a cold and sneezed and it got into him... I would have this investigated. They have created a major health hazard. I, too, have been wondering about the clothes being worn outside the place of work, especially for hospital workers, even worse when they work with people where infections could be deadly. My guess is that nursing standards went down dramatically. There is a shortage of nurses, and they can get away with a lot of bad stuff because the hospitals and doctors offices don't want to lose staff. I also have observed that the standards went down dramatically. I'm not saying that all nurses/hospitals are like that, but there are people in the nursing business who have no business to be there. Cleanliness in hospitals is down, as well. The cleaning crew has x amount to clean a floor. They cut corners where they can. Last I was in the hospital, everything within eye level of the cleaning crew was cleaned. My husband is tall, there was a big level of dust on the top shelves, and dirty underwear from a previous patient. This was in the maternity ward. If that wouldn't have been my last child, I would not go back there. My guess is something really bad has to happen before the hospitals will shape up again.
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@Hatley (164652)
• Garden Grove, California
31 Oct 08
hi jenny I worked as a nurses aid for many years, and I have seen how lax we got over the years. I always changed out of my uniform before going home from wo rk. but a lot of my co workers did not. and the idea of staph infections when I first started was unheard of and later before I married, got 'pregnant and quit we already were having patients get staph after they had been in the hospital for some simple procedure. and now many years after I quit it seems to be a real problem in our American hospitals here in the U.S. Its a shame that a person can go into the hospital for a simple appendectomy and almost die of a staph infection before he gets out again.We have become much too lax in our nursing and medical care routines.