By Josephine Reid
There are many articles of clothing that symbolize certain aspects of society. Police Uniforms symbolizing safety and or authority, chef uniforms and hats symbolizing the culinary arts, even fashion designers dressed particularly unique to represent their field. The white lab coat as an addition to hospital scrubs may be the most prominent symbolism, as it has served as the renowned symbol of physicians for over 100 years.
Many patients throughout time now view the white coat as a "cloak of compassion" and a symbol of the caring. Various studies have found that patients were much more likely to trust a doctor if they were wearing a white coat than if they were in hospital scrubs.
As far as the specific physical use of laboratory, or lab coats, it is worn by professionals in the medical field or by those involved in laboratory work. The coat protects their street clothes and also serves as a simple uniform or overlay for hospital scrubs. White coats are often times seen as the distinctive dress of both physicians and surgeons.
The construction of said coat paired with hospital scrubs can make a difference as far as protection from various liquids or chemicals; including thread count and soil release. The higher the thread count, the less amount of fluids soak through. The longer the product will last, wash after wash. Soil release removes soil from the fabric and transfers it to the detergent; it protects the fiber from attack by soiling matter; it prevents re-deposition of soil which has been dissolved or dispersed and lastly it prevents dust from being attracted and held by electrical charges on the fabric surface. Also, if something splashes onto a lab coat or it catches on fire – it can easily be taken off. It is more difficult to remove contaminated clothing.
Lab coats both serve as a symbol of trust and use of sanitary practice and safety.