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CNAs and Germy Scrubs

Certified nurse assistants (CNAs) complete 75 hours of state-approved training and pass a competency evaluation, and can then go to work in nursing care facilities. The less-than-fashionable scrubs that CNAs have to put on have not been given much thought, until a recent article in the Wall Street Journal raised the question: Just how nasty are those scrubs, and should they be worn in public places? (See the full article at
On One Hand&
Betsy McCaughey, former lieutenant governor of New York, is a fellow at the Hudson Institute and chair of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths. Ms. McCaughey argues that dirty scrubs spread bacteria all over patients, and if the scrubs are worn in public places, they allow superbugs out into the rest of the world. And the public is grossed out by this. CNAs, doctors, and other techs get the occasional smug comment from Joe Public at the grocery store, "Nasty ... thanks for rubbing your scrubs near my produce and pastries!- There are currently no laws regulating where and how scrubs can be worn, but with public nervousness, this may change soon. Some medical settings are creating their own rules due to the spread of the C. diff infection; e.g., Stamford Hospital in Connecticut is prohibiting staff to wear uniforms outside the building. Because C. diff cannot be laundered out of scrubs, Ms. McCaughey believes workers should be provided with clean uniforms and should not wear them in public.
On the Other Hand&
Dr. David Katz ( points out that if scrubs can transmit germs, so can any other garment that the public wears in and out of a medical center. If scrubs have to be removed before leaving the premises, then the public should also have to change their attire before they leave. Dr. Katz sounds off that this is not realistic, and a technological solution should be sought that will fix the problem.
Because there are no definitive studies that prove uniforms are spreading infections, the controversy will continue to flare. In the meantime, an abundance of caution would suggest that not wearing scrubs in public venues is the sanitary but inconvenient way to proceed.

By Rita Henry
Get CNA Jobs, Contributing Editor

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