Today, any medical uniform consisting of a short-sleeve shirt and pants is known as "scrubs". Scrubs may also include a waist-length long-sleeved jacket with no lapels and stockinette cuffs, known as a "warm-up jacket".
Colors and patterns
Scrubs worn in surgery are almost always colored solid light grey, light green, light blue or a light green-blue shade.
Non-surgical scrubs come in a wider variety of colors and patterns, ranging from official issue garments to custom made, whether by commercial uniform companies or by home-sewing using commercially available printed patterns.
Some hospitals use scrub color to differentiate between patient care departments (i.e., Surgery, Childbirth, Emergency, etc.) or between licensed patient care personnel (nurses, radiologic technologists, respiratory and physical therapists, etc.), unlicensed assistive personnel, and non-patient care support staff (i.e., portering, dietary, unit clerks, etc.). Hospitals may also extend the practice to differentiate non-staff members/visitors.
In England and Wales many NHS trusts use different colored scrubs to distinguish between different branches of healthcare professionals, for example anaesthetists may wear maroon. This allows staff and patients to easily spot the workers they are looking for in a high-pressure situation. Piping of different colors or pattern are also often used to distinguish seniority. Many hospitals have posters in reception areas explaining this system but it is mainly designed for hospital staff.
Custom-made printed scrub tops, featuring cartoon characters and cheerful prints, are common in pediatricians' offices, veterinary offices, dental clinics and children's hospitals, and prints for various holidays can be seen throughout the year. Some acute care facilities or larger hospitals also have relaxed rules regarding the wear of non-regulation scrubs in non-surgical units, and they are no longer just the classic v-neck scrub tops, but are now offered in many styles and patterns.
The scrub industry, much like maternity wear, used to have very limited fashion options. Indeed, scrubs were generally box shaped and ill fitted, often with limited design choices. Over the past 10 years the scrub industry has taken notice of the individual preferences of medical professionals and have begun to design and manufacture fashionable and unique designs.