Medical facilities go to great lengths to prevent cross-contamination and ensure their patients can recover in a safe, sterile environment. Medical negligence, however, remains a very real crisis in hospitals in New Jersey and across the nation. Unfortunately, negligence, malpractice and prolonged illnesses can come from truly unexpected sources.

Clothing.

In specific, antibacterial scrubs.

Recently, Health24 looked at a study performed by Duke University Medical Center that specifically focused on comparing the performance of antibacterial scrubs to the regular variety. In the study, 40 nurses were tracked by researchers over the course of three 12-hour shifts. The nurses wore three different types of scrubs: a traditional cotton-polyester blend, one treated with silver-alloy inside fibers, and one treated to kill bacteria. The researchers then, after the shifts were complete, took cultures from the scrubs, the patients and the environment (including bed rails and supply carts) to monitor germs.

The study found that all three of the different types of scrubs were contaminated at the same level and that new contamination moved in during one-third of shifts.

While numerous factors – constant influx of new patients, physical interaction – make it nearly impossible to guarantee a completely sterile hospital environment, medical professionals need to do a better job staying aware of their own impact on the health of their patients. Hand-washing and sterile gloves help, but they only represent a partial solution.