The Importance of Uniforms in the Healthcare Sector

 

As much as a healthcare uniform is recognisable, the livery confines to which medical professionals are required to adhere are blurred at best. There are many reasons why a clear and distinct appearance across all health carers is important ranging from the control of healthcare associated infection (HCAI) to colour therapy and the positive subconscious effects of certain colours on a patient. As an objective report this post aims simply to outline how a uniform is particularly central within the healthcare industry.

"It has been shown that soiled fabric/linen within healthcare settings in particular, can harbour large numbers of potentially pathogenic microorganisms”1

Most importantly within the sector is maintaining high infection control standards and this is especially pertinent over the past few years in the UK given the peak of MRSA related deaths in 2006.2 In order to prevent spread of infection from the workplace to public areas, it is of utmost consequence for a healthcare professional to have distinguished boundaries between healthcare uniform and ‘civilian’ clothing. Alongside a routine and controlled washing cycle this may be the best way of HCAI spread prevention. Multiple healthcare uniform sets resistant enough to be industrially laundered regularly may be the most sensible way around this problem.

Doctors, nurses, pharmacists and any other medical care givers are afforded a high level of trust on a daily basis. And in return a patient should be able to expect a professional, and perhaps more importantly clean appearance. Specific healthcare uniforms offer this image by using simple cuts and designs, as well as pale neutral tones which evoke a clinical feel without becoming too harsh. This brings me onto study of colour psychology – the study that subjection to different colours can induce different feelings within a person subconsciously. Historically within this field green and blue are thought to bring on feelings of balance and intelligence respectively. Whether this is the case is open for debate, however it is difficult to deny that a soft, pastel tone is much more appropriate than glaring, and bright colours in the medical environment.

As an ex-military officer, Jim Daugherty outlines in his article on medical uniforms3 that ‘uniform indicates affiliation with a group and evokes a sense of pride in the wearer. Some people also believe a uniform builds a spirit of comradeship, enthusiasm, and devotion among members of the medical team’. I think a feeling of pride in ones work is especially important in this field; this could pertain to a nurse feeling more caring and willing to go the extra mile to make the patient comfortable for example.

Many more reasons exist for the benefit of uniforms within the healthcare sector, and it’s certainly difficult to argue against. Any way for a patient to find trust, safety and positivity in their carer is a definite advantage, not to mention the potential HCAI risk prevention issues. Healthcare uniforms are not just important for maintaining high professional and clinical standards, but can also be very important as branding and marketing tools in the private care industry, and I will be writing on this in next week’s blog; how a quality healthcare uniform can help your business.

Anand Sodha, Dencowear

2013

1 NHS Professionals, Standard Infection Control Precautions, Section 6: Safe Care of Linen including Healthcare Uniforms, http://www.nhsprofessionals.nhs.uk/download/comms/CG1_NHSP_Standard_Infection_Control_Precautions_v3.pdf

2Deaths Involving MRSA: England and Wales, 2007 to 2011,  Office for National Statistics http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171778_276956.pdf

3 Medical Uniforms: Appearance is important, http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Jim_Daugherty

Other Sources:

http://www.nhsprofessionals.nhs.uk/download/comms/CG1_NHSP_Standard_Infection_Control_Precautions_v3.pdf