Honors Program

Midway Honors, Honors in Nursing

Date of Award


Thesis Professor(s)

Joy Wachs

Thesis Professor Department


Thesis Reader(s)

Sean Fox Sandy Halford


Nurses are frequently seen in public in their “scrubs,” which could mean that contaminated clothing is being brought into the community, thereby posing an infection risk. The purpose of this study is to investigate if and which contaminants are present on the fabrics and the actions nurses are taking to eliminate contamination risks.

Eleven scrub tops were worn on hospital units over one twelve-hour shift. The contaminated scrubs and three control tops were then swabbed and used to inoculate agar plates. After incubation, colonies were counted, streaked onto nutrient and Mannitol-salt agar for isolation, and incubated. Using API Staph strips and Gram staining, the bacteria were identified. The nurses also completed a short survey on laundering and scrub care.

All scrub tops, except the controls, were contaminated with multiple species of bacteria including Staphylococcus species. Responses to the survey showed that no two nurses washed their scrubs in the same manner and many wear them in public. The results determined that bacteria can survive on clothing and pose the possibility of transmission throughout the hospital and public venues. The survey results indicate a need for employer laundering policies, public awareness of the risk for transmission of disease from contaminated clothing, and stricter regulations about employees wearing scrubs outside of health care facilities.

Document Type

Honors Thesis - Withheld

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