Non-‘Uniform’ Apparel Makes ID’ing Hospital Personnel Difficult

Bruce Beggs |

WILMINGTON, Mass. — When it comes to identifying hospital personnel, the medical community could take a basic apparel lesson from the classic cowboy movies in which the good guys wore white hats and the bad guys black.
In contrast, given the rainbow of colors, clothing styles, and fabric patterns many doctors and nurses wear today, patients and visitors can often have trouble telling the difference between the professional and support staffs—which could cause a delay in the delivery of necessary emergency medical attention.
It’s for this reason that the Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, Ohio, recently began requiring its nurses to wear navy and white uniforms and other hospital workers to wear teal or sandstone scrubs. According to the director of the hospital’s Center of Nursing Excellence, the new uniform policy gives nurses and their colleagues an immediate visual cue in emergency situations.
“Many of our healthcare facilities have evolved to a point where uniform programs are not ‘uniform,’” says Adam Soreff, a spokesman for UniFirst Corp., which provides work apparel to a wide range of industries throughout North America.
“When adopted in a systematic, consistent manner, uniforms not only help to identify specific group members and improve overall communications among hospital staff, patients and visitors, they help create a strong, team-like feeling that contributes to achieving organizational goals.”
Recognizing the inherent identification attributes of uniforms caught the attention of the Cleveland Clinic in 2005, when it mandated that all doctors and nurses wear white uniforms so that patients could more easily identify them, and the medical staff would project a more “professional” appearance.
A similar experiment is being contemplated in the United Kingdom where the Royal College of Nursing is investigating if a single “national” uniform should be adopted for medical personnel as a means to eliminate identity confusion.
According to Soreff, standardization of apparel does not equate with bland appearances. “There’s plenty of room within standardized dress codes and managed uniform programs for unique customization by taking advantage of advanced personalization options, accessories, fabric shades and patterns.”
An equally important factor is wearer comfort, he says. “By selecting the proper styling and fabrics, an organization can help ensure their employees—particularly those who tend to work long hours like medical staffs—are not distracted by their clothing and, instead, remain firmly focused on their tasks so they can fulfill organizational goals.”

About the author

Bruce Beggs

American Trade Magazines LLC

Editorial Director, American Trade Magazines LLC

Bruce Beggs is editorial director of American Trade Magazines LLC, including American Coin-Op, American Drycleaner and American Laundry News. He was the editor of American Laundry News from November 1999 to May 2011. Beggs has worked as a newspaper reporter/editor and magazine editor since graduating from Kansas State University in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications. He and his wife, Sandy, have two children.


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