By Josephine Reid
Similar to other uniforms throughout history, different colors have had different means of representation, and uniform scrubs have taken on different meanings throughout time as well. Different colors throughout large medical facilities make it easier for patients and other staff to identify the appropriate personnel.
Medical professionals can choose from a wide variety of scrubs with different colors and patterns. But there is pretty significant reasoning behind why plain blue and green medical scrubs are so popular.
It used to be that doctors, especially those performing surgeries, didn’t even wear special work garments and simply operated in their regular clothes and with bare hands. The 1918 flu pandemic and the rise of antiseptic theory led first to the use of surgical masks and rubber gloves and, eventually, antiseptic drapes, gowns and caps in the operating room.
Early operating room garments were white, which emphasized cleanliness but led to eyestrain and headaches for surgeons and their staff. Sometime in the mid-20th century, hospitals began to ditch white linens and switched to various shades of green, which made things easier for both the institutions and their surgeons.
There however, aren't really 'regulations' per say, it's more so that a department just picks a color palate. Usually this is done to help decipher who is who. As for particular colors such as yellow, or pink, these colors are simply up to each nurse or hospital color regulations.
Different colored scrubs such as pink, blue and green also serve various symbolic and psychological reasoning. Pink uniform scrubs for example, nurses and techs in the Mother/Baby unit may have pink scrub jackets with a hospital logo on them, and possibly their name, with embroidered baby footprints on them. Pink of course, is traditionally associated with newborn baby girls.
There is also an influx of pink scrubs for Breast Cancer Awareness.
Yellow doesn't necessarily serve a particular purpose, however it is often regarded as a bright cheery color, and provokes thoughts of warmth.
Green uniform scrubs help physicians see better for various reasons. First, looking at blue or green can refresh a doctor’s vision of red things, including the bloody innards of a patient during surgery. The brain interprets colors relative to each other. If a surgeon stares at something that’s red and pink, he becomes desensitized to it. The red signal in the brain actually fades, which could make it harder to see the nuances of the human body. Looking at something green from time to time can keep someone’s eyes more sensitive to variations in red.
Today you can find medical scrubs in a variety of colors and even prints, depending on their position in the hospital. There is also a dependence upon whether or not the particular hospital has special color coding unique to the facility. For instance, certain job titles will be assigned a specific color, to assist staff and patients in deciphering who belongs to which department in the midst of an often chaotic hospital.