Why Did Scrubs Start as Green or Blue
Written by Editor   
Wednesday, September 03, 2014 01:16 PM

When "scrubs" started out it seems that green or blue was the color of choice rather than the rainbow of colors we see today.  Why were scrubs green or blue?  Scrubs used to be white—the color of cleanliness.

In the early twentieth century, one influential doctor switched to green because he thought it would be easier on a surgeon’s eyes, according to an article in a 1998 issue of Today’s Surgical Nurse. Green may be especially well-suited to help doctors see better in the surgical suite because it is the opposite of red on the color wheel.  Green could help surgeons see better for two reasons. First, looking at blue or green can refresh a doctor’s vision of red things, including the bloody innards of a patient during surgery. The brain interprets colors relative to each other. If a surgeon stares at something that’s red and pink, he becomes desensitized to it. The red signal in the brain actually fades, which could make it harder to see the nuances of the human body. Looking at something green from time to time can keep someone’s eyes more sensitive to variations in red, according to John Werner, a psychologist who studies vision at the University of California, Davis.

Second, deep focus on red can lead to distracting green illusions on white surfaces. These funky green ghosts could appear if a doctor shifts his gaze from reddish body tissue to something white, like a surgical drape or an anesthesiologist’s alabaster outfit. A green illusion of the patient’s red insides may appear on the white background. The distracting image would follow the surgeon’s gaze wherever he looks, similar to the floating spots we see after a camera flash.  However, if a doctor looks at green or blue scrubs instead of white ones, these disturbing ghosts will blend right in and not become a distraction, according to Paola Bressan, who researches visual illusions at the University of Padova in Italy.

Interesting.