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Among most medical facilities, uniforms vary widely. You could walk into two different emergency rooms in two different hospitals and find medical professionals that are wearing entirely different colors. But there’s one place where everyone wears the same color: the operating room.
Surgical linens, surgical gowns and surgical scrubs are almost always green, but why? We did a little digging around to try to figure out why this color remains the one and only choice for operating room textiles.
So, why are surgical linens and gowns green (and occasionally teal)? The answer isn’t exactly as straightforward as you might think.
Surgical Textiles Weren’t Always Green
Scrubs on the Scene
Green Takes Over
In 1914, one San Francisco surgeon came up with a solution to this problem. He suggested that white be replaced with green, because green is “less wearisome to the eyes” and also minimizes glare.Green also helps to sort of “reset” surgeon vision. Green is the opposite of red on the color wheel, which makes green an important focal point. Often, after staring at the reddish organs and body parts that surgeons are working with, the colors and objects start to blend together. Green provides a valuable contrast that helps surgeons distinguish between different shades of red and pink.
The American College of Nursing recently posted a few guidelines for operating room attire that are available here.