Background: Healthcare workers' (HCWs) uniforms become contaminated with bacteria during normal use, and this may contribute to hospital-acquired infections. Antimicrobial uniforms are currently marketed as a means of reducing this contamination.
Objective: To compare the extent of bacterial contamination of uniforms and skin when HCWs wear 1 of 2 antimicrobial scrubs or standard scrubs.
Design: Prospective, randomized, controlled trial.
Setting: University-affiliated, public safety net hospital
Participants: Hospitalist physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, housestaff, and nurses (total N = 105) working on internal medicine units.
Intervention: Subjects were randomized to wear standard scrubs or 1 of 2 antimicrobial scrubs.
Measurements: Bacterial colony counts in cultures taken from the HCWs' scrubs and wrists after an 8-hour workday.
Results: The median (interquartile range) total colony counts was 99 (66-182) for standard scrubs, 137 (84-289) for antimicrobial scrub type A, and 138 (62-274) for antimicrobial scrub type B (P = 0.36). Colony counts from participants' wrists were 16 (5-40) when they wore standard scrubs and 23 (4-42) and 15 (6-54) when they wore antimicrobial scrubs A and B, respectively (P = 0.92). Resistant organisms were cultured from 3 HCWs (4.3%) randomized to antimicrobial scrubs and none randomized to standard scrubs (P = 0.55). Six participants (5.7%) reported side effects to wearing scrubs, all of whom wore antimicrobial scrubs (P = 0.18).
Conclusions: We found no evidence that either antimicrobial scrub product decreased bacterial contamination of HCWs' uniforms or skin after an 8-hour workday.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01537835.
© 2013 Society of Hospital Medicine.