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EMS

The Pajama Brigade makes an Impression

I have spoken before about my distaste for what passes as uniforms in many a medical establishment.

Scrubs.

Scrubs are pajamas.  Initially a simple garment to be worn and left in the operating arena, the scrubs are now available in many a color and pattern to be worn by nurses, billing agents, medical assistants, doctors and anyone else in any way associated with physicians.

The fact that most people have no idea the difference between the girl who takes their copays and the nurse that evaluates them, most people assume they are all “nurses.”

On a recent trip to the local Brewery/Restaurant I frequent the Pajama Bridage was in full force.  In a corner of the bar area, which is open to the maybe 30 table dining area a dozen or so pajama clad folks were loudly discussing their favorite clients and patients from that week.

I mention loudly because a few of them felt the need to yell patient information over the sound of their laughing friends.

Alcohol was involved, sure, but so was poor judgment.

After watching most of those around me turn to them and scour, I decided to give them a heads up they were not only being rude, but if I knew where they worked, were clearly violating both the letter and intent of HIPAA’s current form.

“Hey guys, I hate to interrupt, but you’re not only very loud, but I work in the healthcare industry and some of the things you’re saying could be considered violation of patient privacy.”

“Mind your own business,” was he only reply I got from the young lady closest to the man I spoke to, who chose not to even look to me when I spoke.

Returning to my seat, they started up again, laughing, banging the table in hysterics and each trying to outdo the last with tales of “lazy,” “ugly,” “deformed,” “stupid” people they had seen this week.

What upset me the most was that had they said the same things online they would all have been fired, likely because we would then know their names and where they worked.

Then my mind shifted to the uproar and headlines if a group of paramedics in uniform were having the same discussion (sans drinks).  Heads would role, careers would come to an end.

But for some reason the pajamas bring with them an aire of respectability, an assumption of a hard working floor nurse who deserves to unwind after a long week.  I know from what they were discussing they are likely not even nurses, but technicians and desk clerks, and how would the average person ever know that?

Nurses need to stand up and differentiate themselves from the pajama clad masses who continue to distort the public’s image of their profession.  Ditch the pajamas and accept something more like what I saw in England, or something from your past, something with some class to it.  Something that when you walk in a room I’m not wondering if you just rolled out of bed, but see you as someone who respects their line of work enough to dress the part.

 

The kids at bar making you look bad look just like you and feel comfortable enough in their pajamas to hit the bar after a long day of supporting your hard work.

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33 Comments

  1. MedicMom April 2, 2011 10:19 pm

    I will probably get into trouble for this but… I agree with everyone wearing scrubs. I understand the durability and all but I can’t tell housekeeping from the nurse! And as far as working around all the germs and blood and such all day and then walking into a restraunt or grocery store or anywhere for that matter is just nasty…It turns my stomach to see people around the food I am buying in their dirty scrubs. Change before you leave please! Your carrying germs out into the public! Especially if you work in the ER.

    • MedicMom April 2, 2011 10:20 pm

      Actually, that should read agree with everyone NOT wearing scrubs.

  2. MedicMom April 2, 2011 10:19 pm

    I will probably get into trouble for this but… I agree with everyone wearing scrubs. I understand the durability and all but I can’t tell housekeeping from the nurse! And as far as working around all the germs and blood and such all day and then walking into a restraunt or grocery store or anywhere for that matter is just nasty…It turns my stomach to see people around the food I am buying in their dirty scrubs. Change before you leave please! Your carrying germs out into the public! Especially if you work in the ER.

    • MedicMom April 2, 2011 10:20 pm

      Actually, that should read agree with everyone NOT wearing scrubs.

  3. EqDVM April 2, 2011 10:27 pm

    While I have always found your posts interesting, this one is definitely rubbing me wrong. Scrubs are not pajamas. They are designed to reduce nosocomial disease spread by having an easily changed outer layer of protection that can be washed in such a way that pathogens can be removed; you can wash them in hot water/strong detergent/bleach without risk of destroying them. Considering that all those people that you feel shouldn’t be wearing scrubs (apparently anyone who is not a nurse) regularly come into contact with sick patients and other coworkers that are around sick patients, do you really want them wearing those clothes out into the public as they leave their job? That being said, scrubs should only be put on at your place of work, changed often and removed before leaving. Wearing them outside of the workplace is a great way to spread disease and all the other disgusting things that are encountered in the work place. I wholeheartedly agree that those the “Pajama Brigade” were violating HIPPA and being negligent/gross wearing their scrubs outside of work. But wearing scrubs is not the problem. Wearing them outside of the workplace is.

    • the Happy Medic April 2, 2011 11:21 pm

      EqDVM, sorry, but as you stated, they rubbed me wrong. Scrubs are cotton pajamas pure and simple. I wash my work gear that gets yucky in hot water too. Certainly they should not be wearing what they wore near sick people out (one of the main giveaways they were not nurses) but you know that…I know that…the rest of the restaurant does not. In their eyes a dozen nurses were at the table.
      There are tons of other options, I just think that throwing everyone in the office/building/hospital into scrubs makes it harder to find who I need, both as a paramedic and as a patient. The only way I could tell the janitor from the nurse when my daughter was sick was the task they completed once in the room.
      If the nurses wore something that was still cotton, still washable and held up to constant washing, but was styled to tell them apart from everyone else would be nifty and go a long way in my mind.
      Thanks for reading.

  4. EqDVM April 2, 2011 10:27 pm

    While I have always found your posts interesting, this one is definitely rubbing me wrong. Scrubs are not pajamas. They are designed to reduce nosocomial disease spread by having an easily changed outer layer of protection that can be washed in such a way that pathogens can be removed; you can wash them in hot water/strong detergent/bleach without risk of destroying them. Considering that all those people that you feel shouldn’t be wearing scrubs (apparently anyone who is not a nurse) regularly come into contact with sick patients and other coworkers that are around sick patients, do you really want them wearing those clothes out into the public as they leave their job? That being said, scrubs should only be put on at your place of work, changed often and removed before leaving. Wearing them outside of the workplace is a great way to spread disease and all the other disgusting things that are encountered in the work place. I wholeheartedly agree that those the “Pajama Brigade” were violating HIPPA and being negligent/gross wearing their scrubs outside of work. But wearing scrubs is not the problem. Wearing them outside of the workplace is.

    • the Happy Medic April 2, 2011 11:21 pm

      EqDVM, sorry, but as you stated, they rubbed me wrong. Scrubs are cotton pajamas pure and simple. I wash my work gear that gets yucky in hot water too. Certainly they should not be wearing what they wore near sick people out (one of the main giveaways they were not nurses) but you know that…I know that…the rest of the restaurant does not. In their eyes a dozen nurses were at the table.
      There are tons of other options, I just think that throwing everyone in the office/building/hospital into scrubs makes it harder to find who I need, both as a paramedic and as a patient. The only way I could tell the janitor from the nurse when my daughter was sick was the task they completed once in the room.
      If the nurses wore something that was still cotton, still washable and held up to constant washing, but was styled to tell them apart from everyone else would be nifty and go a long way in my mind.
      Thanks for reading.

  5. Nicoleauroux April 2, 2011 10:43 pm

    “in any way associated with physicians.” ? I thought nurses et al had their own professions.

    • the Happy Medic April 2, 2011 11:23 pm

      That term was meant to encompass everyone else in the building…janitorial, billing, records, etc etc, but I think nursing has an opportunity to rise above those who need to have disposable clothes is all.

  6. Nicoleauroux April 2, 2011 10:43 pm

    “in any way associated with physicians.” ? I thought nurses et al had their own professions.

    • the Happy Medic April 2, 2011 11:23 pm

      That term was meant to encompass everyone else in the building…janitorial, billing, records, etc etc, but I think nursing has an opportunity to rise above those who need to have disposable clothes is all.

  7. SKC Observer April 3, 2011 3:36 am

    When I was an EMT I took pride in wearing a nice uni. Pressed uniform shirt, pressed pants, name tag, etc. As a nurse I try to wear my scrubs nice–well fitting with a crease in the trousers and shirt sleeves. I agree that scrubs should not be worn much outside of the hospital–unless I absolutely must, I rarely run errands without changing first.

    I don’t think scrubs need to be done away with, but I do think that, along with the confidentiality teaching, there might need some dress code teaching!

  8. SKC Observer April 3, 2011 3:36 am

    When I was an EMT I took pride in wearing a nice uni. Pressed uniform shirt, pressed pants, name tag, etc. As a nurse I try to wear my scrubs nice–well fitting with a crease in the trousers and shirt sleeves. I agree that scrubs should not be worn much outside of the hospital–unless I absolutely must, I rarely run errands without changing first.

    I don’t think scrubs need to be done away with, but I do think that, along with the confidentiality teaching, there might need some dress code teaching!

  9. Burned-Out Medic April 3, 2011 8:16 am

    they probably don’t understand emtala either…

  10. Burned-Out Medic April 3, 2011 8:16 am

    they probably don’t understand emtala either…

  11. Tim April 4, 2011 4:24 am

    There’s a hospital here where the nurses have big tags that hang below their id badges that say RN in 2inch high letters. I tell ya, it helps me sort out who’s who when I’m doing interfacility runs.

  12. Tim April 4, 2011 4:24 am

    There’s a hospital here where the nurses have big tags that hang below their id badges that say RN in 2inch high letters. I tell ya, it helps me sort out who’s who when I’m doing interfacility runs.

  13. Too Old To Work April 4, 2011 3:23 pm

    Once upon a time at a teaching hospital that fancy’s itself a trauma center I once rolled in with an acute patient and gave report to the man in scrubs who I thought to be the surgeon. It was odd that he was the ONLY person in the so called trauma resuscitation room, but I just figured everyone else was on the way.

    Imagine my surprise when he picked up his mop and walked out of the room. Yes, he was from housekeeping, but he had on the same scrubs as the surgeons wear. Given the quality of care, I think I actually gave report to the right person, but that’s a different story.

    Actually, I don’t much care what the nurses wear, but the doctors should be wearing lab coats. Short ones for the residents, long ones for the attendings. Sort of like insignia of rank.

  14. Too Old To Work April 4, 2011 3:23 pm

    Once upon a time at a teaching hospital that fancy’s itself a trauma center I once rolled in with an acute patient and gave report to the man in scrubs who I thought to be the surgeon. It was odd that he was the ONLY person in the so called trauma resuscitation room, but I just figured everyone else was on the way.

    Imagine my surprise when he picked up his mop and walked out of the room. Yes, he was from housekeeping, but he had on the same scrubs as the surgeons wear. Given the quality of care, I think I actually gave report to the right person, but that’s a different story.

    Actually, I don’t much care what the nurses wear, but the doctors should be wearing lab coats. Short ones for the residents, long ones for the attendings. Sort of like insignia of rank.

  15. Ron Davis April 4, 2011 5:41 pm

    I’m with you Jason on not liking scrubs and I call them my Hospital Pajamas when I have an ER clinical. In some of the hospitals they differentiate what people do by the color of their scrubs.

    “What upset me the most was that had they said the same things online they would all have been fired, likely because we would then know their names and where they worked.”

    Sounds like a job for a cell phone camera and YouTube, then they would be saying it on the internet…..

    • Anonymous April 6, 2011 12:29 am

      Great idea. Put them on blast, let their own stupidity end the career they spent 2 hard months building, learning to type, and/or use an auto b/p machine. This post really made me mad. Because if that had been a medic, of even a cop, they would be fired. And if I did that in my work uniform, I would not only be fired, but probably taken out and tar and feathered by the responsible EMS workers that I just put to shame by such a poor lack of judgment.

  16. Ron Davis April 4, 2011 5:41 pm

    I’m with you Jason on not liking scrubs and I call them my Hospital Pajamas when I have an ER clinical. In some of the hospitals they differentiate what people do by the color of their scrubs.

    “What upset me the most was that had they said the same things online they would all have been fired, likely because we would then know their names and where they worked.”

    Sounds like a job for a cell phone camera and YouTube, then they would be saying it on the internet…..

    • Anonymous April 6, 2011 12:29 am

      Great idea. Put them on blast, let their own stupidity end the career they spent 2 hard months building, learning to type, and/or use an auto b/p machine. This post really made me mad. Because if that had been a medic, of even a cop, they would be fired. And if I did that in my work uniform, I would not only be fired, but probably taken out and tar and feathered by the responsible EMS workers that I just put to shame by such a poor lack of judgment.

  17. NYMedic April 5, 2011 11:10 pm

    When EMS brings a patient into the emergency department, more often than not the gross contaminants have been removed except for those bleeding, vomiting, etc. If we can wear uniforms and still complete our tasks, why not in the mostly controlled environment of say a hospital or medical office? The time for scrubs has come and gone for everyone except those in the OR. Uniforms would solve many issues, among them; clerks wearing inappropriately revealing clothing like I’ve seen in too many hospitals and medical offices, the ‘Are you the Janitorial Engineer or the Physician’s Assistant’ issue of difficult identification of staff who often wear their ID tags turned around so you can’t read their names or because they don’t like their picture, etc. When everyone realizes this is a job and not their personal time, maybe they can put aside what’s best for them and do what’s best for the people to whom they’re being paid to attend? Uniforms will quickly separate the guy/gal standing around in gray who’s about to start mopping the floors from the guy/gal in white who’s about to do the initial evaluation of your condition as the Nurse or the one in the white lab coat over their departments’ color uniform ready to write your orders for treatment as your attending Physician.

  18. NYMedic April 5, 2011 11:10 pm

    When EMS brings a patient into the emergency department, more often than not the gross contaminants have been removed except for those bleeding, vomiting, etc. If we can wear uniforms and still complete our tasks, why not in the mostly controlled environment of say a hospital or medical office? The time for scrubs has come and gone for everyone except those in the OR. Uniforms would solve many issues, among them; clerks wearing inappropriately revealing clothing like I’ve seen in too many hospitals and medical offices, the ‘Are you the Janitorial Engineer or the Physician’s Assistant’ issue of difficult identification of staff who often wear their ID tags turned around so you can’t read their names or because they don’t like their picture, etc. When everyone realizes this is a job and not their personal time, maybe they can put aside what’s best for them and do what’s best for the people to whom they’re being paid to attend? Uniforms will quickly separate the guy/gal standing around in gray who’s about to start mopping the floors from the guy/gal in white who’s about to do the initial evaluation of your condition as the Nurse or the one in the white lab coat over their departments’ color uniform ready to write your orders for treatment as your attending Physician.

  19. Westcoastwcdp April 10, 2011 2:52 am

    I understand for the sake of blog topics this topic came up, but really? Scrubs… The notion that the general public thinking everyone in scrubs is a nurse is irrelevant to me. Let’s deal with the fact that the general public is still confused about why firefighters show up when they call for paramedics. I think the fact that the general public is still in dark about the capacity of firemedics/ fireEMTs is more of an issue than the general public thinking everyone in scrubs is an ER nurse.

    • the Happy Medic April 10, 2011 2:56 pm

      Westcoast,
      The fact that everyone thinks people in scrubs ties into the fact that we would likely faint if only the nurses wore them. Meaning that so few of the persons in a medical setting can actually render immediate and direct care.
      As far as being surprised when a fire engine shows up when they call for Paramedics, I too am surprised when that happens. It’s a fire engine. Why would it come to help us? Either we educate them or address the 4 man 500,000 first response unit issue.
      I’d love to know where you work to have a better idea of your background and perhaps discuss it more? If not here, then perhaps via email – thehappymedic@gmail.com, anonymity OK.
      Thanks for reading

  20. Westcoastwcdp April 10, 2011 2:52 am

    I understand for the sake of blog topics this topic came up, but really? Scrubs… The notion that the general public thinking everyone in scrubs is a nurse is irrelevant to me. Let’s deal with the fact that the general public is still confused about why firefighters show up when they call for paramedics. I think the fact that the general public is still in dark about the capacity of firemedics/ fireEMTs is more of an issue than the general public thinking everyone in scrubs is an ER nurse.

    • the Happy Medic April 10, 2011 2:56 pm

      Westcoast,
      The fact that everyone thinks people in scrubs ties into the fact that we would likely faint if only the nurses wore them. Meaning that so few of the persons in a medical setting can actually render immediate and direct care.
      As far as being surprised when a fire engine shows up when they call for Paramedics, I too am surprised when that happens. It’s a fire engine. Why would it come to help us? Either we educate them or address the 4 man 500,000 first response unit issue.
      I’d love to know where you work to have a better idea of your background and perhaps discuss it more? If not here, then perhaps via email – thehappymedic@gmail.com, anonymity OK.
      Thanks for reading

  21. Gerrie April 2, 2017 7:44 am

    I know this article is old but I am going to reply just the same. You stated that you know that the rude, loud drunk “pajama clad” group was probably not even nurses but merely technicians or desk clerks. Your comment was very offensive to me. You are implying that techs are to stupid to conduct themselves in a professional manner and that Nurses should be outraged. I am a tech in a hospital and I can tell you that we have more contact than the nurse. We do the blood work, EKG’s, assist the doctors, clean and care for the wounds, and splint the broken bones etc. The all important nurse you speak of gives the meds and charts everything for the next hour. Our techs are EMTs at the Intermediate or Paramedic level.
    Your blanket approach to Nurses and Techs is definitely not the behavior of the Professionals I work with. I am proud of the kindness and compassion shown from our people. We once had over a million dollars left to our hospital by a “homeless person” who was shown kindness and loving care by a tech in our ER. Turns out he was homeless by choice and he was moved by the care he received. We have a beautiful facility with great people.
    For those of you that read this “happy medic’s” opinion, It’s nearly an opinion and one group of unprofessional people in a bar is NOT the norm for most Techs and Nurses. And our Medics get along great with our staff.
    ( you may want to change your name from “happy” to grumpy.)

    • Justin April 9, 2017 7:47 am

      Hi Gerrie, thanks for looking through the archives. If you looked around a bit more you’ll see that I have no tolerance for any group of Professionals gabbing about things like this, be they cops, medics, nurses, techs, desk clerks or any other form of folks we trust. My comments go towards the continued “status” of the scrubs as applying directly to nursing. In other articles I have taken on why the billing staff wear scrubs, why EMTs would wear a stethoscope to a bar and how firefighters who wear the Maltese Cross take on a responsibility to represent me when they go out doing whatever crap they’re going to do. I’d also add that your brief mention that the techs have more patient care is directly in line with my statements about how certain people are seen and that, indeed, some do more than others. I remain your Happy Medic. Thanks again for reading.

  22. Dan April 9, 2017 8:31 am

    I understand the purpose of Scrubs for OR staff– they arrive at work in street clothes and change into hospital-issued clean clothes in order to work in the aseptic fields of the ORs. At the end of the day, staff remove the scrubs (so as not to transfer those bacteria to the outside world) and so the scrubs can be cleaned. In the OR, pajamas are perfectly fine, because they are worn under gowns and many patients are less than conscious. Maybe it’s okay in the ORs that everyone looks similar.

    I detest healthcare providers wearing those scrubs outside the OR suite or hospital. I am disgusted to see folks on public transit wearing them (for the hygiene of the hospital and world). I understand a surgeon wearing scrubs in the OR, then rounding on the wards in scrubs sometimes (but expect them to put a white coat on), but do not understand the outpatient clinic nurse wearing them every day.

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