Doctor Wrote His Name On His Scrub Cap And Inspired A Life-Saving Global Trend

There is a doctor in Australia who one day decided to start wearing his scrub cap a little differently. Specifically, he decided to start writing his name and occupation on the front of the cap so that people looking at him can read it. It caught on and became a trend amongst doctors across the world. The reasons why have been saving lives.

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Why This Australian Doctor Writes His Name On His Scrub Cap

One day while on the job, Dr. Rob Hackett was responding to a cardiac arrest call in a theater. There were about 20 other people in the room with him attempting to save this man’s life. In these situations, every second counts. The issue was, Dr. Hackett was struggling to communicate what he needed from others.

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“I struggled to even ask to be passed some gloves because the person I was pointing to thought I was pointing to the person behind them.” he recalled. (1)

That’s when he decided to start writing his name and occupation on his scrub cap. That way, whether in the operating room or in another type of emergency, other practitioners would know who he was behind the face mask and protective gear and what his specialties are. This knowledge, he says, could save lives.

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Not Well Received At First

Dr. Hackett says that at first, his colleagues poked fun at him for writing his name on his scrub cap. They would say things like “can’t you remember your name?” and other kinds of comments like that. One year later, however, it has become a global trend in the medical industry. He is now working with the PatientSafe Network to make this become the norm around the globe. They are using the hashtag #TheatreCapChallenge to get it trending on social media and to encourage medical staff to share pictures of their labeled caps. (2)

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“The #TheatreCapChallenge is an initiative from the PatientSafe Network in response to concerns about how easily avoidable mistakes and poor communication are contributing to rising adverse events for our medical patients,” Dr. Hackett told Bored Panda. “It has been adopted around the world with studies from the US and UK demonstrating how this simple idea can decrease human errors in healthcare.”

Names and occupations on scrub caps can save time in situations when every single additional second could mean life or death for a patient. It increases communication and theater efficiency. These aren’t the only benefits, either.

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The Human Side Of Things

Having names on scrubs caps isn’t only about communication and efficiency in the operating room. It is also about the camaraderie among medical staff as well as showing the patients that there is a real human being behind the mask and all that protective equipment. Studies on the movement in the UK show that name recall among the staff in hospitals went from 42% to 85%. Name and role introductions, which is part of the surgery safety protocol checklist, went from just 38% to 90%. 

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The patients benefit, as well. For those who need to be awake during their procedure, for example, women having cesarean sections, it is reassuring. They can look around and they know the name of each person in that room and their position. It takes out some of the fear and confusion.

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Environmentally there is a benefit as well. Many hospitals are now switching from disposable scrub caps to reusable ones with people’s names and occupations printed or sewn right into them. This is saving a lot of waste. Hospitals can discard over 100,000 disposable scrub caps each year, which means each year they are throwing away $10,000. Reusable ones, though have a higher up-front cost, in the end, save them a lot of money.

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Challenges Still Faced

The idea is brilliant as improving patient care and staff morale. Unfortunately, the movement has faced some pushback from senior hospital staff. Dr. Hackett says he believes this is mainly because of ego and these people not wanting to admit that this new way is better than how they were doing things before. So far, they’ve received support from the anesthetic and obstetric societies, however, no active support from any surgical colleges.

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“It’s most likely to affect those who feel defined by their decisions often those further up the chain of command – in accepting change they’ll need to accept that what was happening previously, on their watch as it were, was not as good,” he said. “Within healthcare, this may mean we have to accept we’ve been hurting people, even killing people for years – often this can be too hard to bear.”

Clearly, this is a great initiative that is making the lives better of medical staff and also improving patient care. Hopefully, more practitioners across more countries and fields will join in so that hospitals around the world will have a better working environment.

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Sources

  1. Health Care Channel
  2. One Doctor’s ‘Awkward’ Decision To Write His Name On His Scrub Cap Is Changing Safety In Hospitals Around The World.” Bored Panda. Rokas Laurinavičius. 2020.
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