Germ-Fighting Scrubs Fail in Nurses' Test
Scrubs with antimicrobial properties that are supposed to help prevent bacterial contamination don’t work as expected, according to a study published in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, the journal of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America.
For the study, which is part of the Antimicrobial Scrub Contamination and Transmission (ASCOT) Trial, researchers at Duke University Hospital followed 40 nurses who wore three different types of scrubs: those made of traditional cotton-polyester fabric, scrubs that contained fibers embedded with a silver-alloy, or those treated with a combination of antibacterial materials. The nurses, who wore the scrubs over three consecutive 12-hour shifts, didn’t know which type they were wearing for the study.
The researchers took cultures from the nurse’s clothing, from patients, and from work environment – supply carts and bed rails, for example – before and after each shift. Then they analyzed the 5,104 cultures and identified new contamination in 33 percent of the shifts. Contamination levels were the same no matter which type of scrubs the nurses worn.