Scrubs contamination, domestic laundry effect and workwear habits of clinical staff at a referral hospital

Panagoitis Kokkinos, L Morgan, Kayleigh Hughes, Danica Pollard, James Gasson, Kelly Blacklock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To determine contamination rates of scrub suits worn by veterinary surgeons and nurses following a single shift.
Methods: Cross sectional pilot study. Sterilised scrub suits were distributed to veterinary surgeons (n = 9) and nurses (n = 9) at the beginning of their clinical shift and worn for at least 8 hours, at a UK small animal referral center. Microbiological analysis of the scrub suits was conducted before and after home laundry at 30ºC. A questionnaire was distributed to hospital clinical staff regarding uniform habits.
Results: Median bacterial counts of 47 (interquartile range [IQR] 14 to 162) and 7 (IQR 0 to 27) colony forming units per cm2 (cfu/cm2) were present before and after laundry of scrub suits (difference: -40 cfu/cm2, p = 0.025). Bacteria identified included: Staphylococcus sp., Enterococcus sp., Escherichia coli, Bacillus sp., Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Micrococcus sp., β-haemolytic Streptococci and a Group G Streptococcus. From 101 staff surveyed, 64.0% reported wearing fresh, clean scrub tops and 58.4% fresh, clean trousers each day, while 64.4% left the workplace wearing the same clothing in which they undertook clinical work.
Conclusion: Workwear contamination risks spread of pathogens into the community and staff compliance with workplace guidelines warrants further attention. Home laundry at 30 ºC significantly decreases, but does not eliminate, the bacterial burden after a single shift.
Clinical significance: The significant presence of bacteria on the uniforms after the shift ended necessitates further study, particularly regarding wearing health care uniforms outside of the work environment.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Small Animal Practice
Early online date19 Feb 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Feb 2020


  • uniforms
  • contamination
  • veterinarians
  • nurses
  • home laundry


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