Surgical scrubs and green coloring; complimentary color effects?

My mom wants to know if surgical scrubs and operation areas are painted green because red and green are complimentary colors. She thinks that it has less psychological effect on surgeons than say, red on white. Is this true, or was it just the cheapest paint availible? Did they adopt the color in the 70’s? that would explain the atrocious shade.

Surgical scrubs (the clothing) are colored an ugly shade of green to discourage theft. Around my school, there were lots of med students who swiped scrubs and wore them all the time, even outside the hospital. The school decided to change them to a hideous shade of pink. Now nobody wears them outside the hospital.

Green is a restful colour on the eyes. The operating room can be a stressful environment, and dressing in comfortable and relaxing clothing is a good idea.

Surgeons operating don’t generally like to see large amounts of blood splattered around. This could be hidden with red clothing, but blood on green clothing while visible isn’t “in your face”. I douibty this has much to do with why green scrubs are used, but of course I’[m talking through my hat here. Perhaps it is to give a military air to a system that is indisputably hierarchial?

Not much to add here except that while our surgical scrubs are usually green, when in the OR they are usually covered by surgical gowns, which are pale blue.

Institutions such as hospitals, insane asylums, police stations, etc. have had their walls painted dull green for a long time, ever since it was discovered that cool colors such as dull green can have a psychologically calming effect.

The switch to dull green for surgical scrubs, from spotless white (which was hard to keep spotless white) was an outgrowth of that trend. And I think it was back in the 60s, not the 70s. The 70s “dull green” was more of an “avocado” green, not a putty gray-green.

Yep, sounds like a hospital to me. :smiley:

For wall paint in an institution, dull green is just about right, not too bright and not too dark, with not too much glare.

I remember learning from a reliable source (which I’ve now forgotten) that scrubs were changed from Florence Nightengale White to Yucky Green precisely because Blood Red looks like Not Absolutely Revolting Brown when splattered all over that color green, especially on the closed-circuit educational televisions that hospitals were starting to use at the time.

At the hospital where I work, most people wear bright purple scrubs, which are kind of pretty, if you like purple (my mom does). They even have scrub vending machines in the hallways, where people who need them can swipe their ID cards and get a set in their size. My ID card doesn’t work; I tried.

Scrubs are color-coded, or at least they were at the hospital I worked at last summer. Nurses wore white, nursing assistants wore pink, and ward clerks wore navy blue tops with white pants. One group had the most lovely shade of turquoise, I think it was the ct+phlebotomy people. The medical staff had their own colors, but I was a lowly clerk, so I mostly just saw the nursing staff.

There was a rash of scrub thefts here some years ago and people started wearing them all over the place, which surprised me because I think they’re ugly and they have no pockets. Luckily, that period passed quickly, pretty much around the time the hospital started using big, black, permanent markers to print their abbreviations on the backs.

I think, sometime in the 70s or 80s, they started experimenting with colors, scenery and lighting to make hospitals less frightening and austere. The oldest hospital I can remember used to have stark, two color hallways, with white walls going halfway down, then a dark, dark, dismal green continuing from there to the dark tiled floor. Then I saw pictures in magazines of these wonderful hospitals with bright, color coordinated everything from furniture to nurses stations, to floor tile to murals painted on walls. They looked so cheerful and fantastic that it was hard to believe.

Then came the scrubs in shades of colors, most dull, but better than they used to wear, followed by wildly colored and patterned surgical cloth caps. Around about then came disposable paper surgical gowns in shades of green, blue, yellow and red.

But, as things usually go, the biggest most expensive hospitals have all of these great colorful things, while the smaller, usually corporate chain run places have little. At least hospitals don’t use that awful grim two color wall shading like they used to.