Pathogens, also sometimes generally referred to as germs, are infectious microorganisms that cause disease when they pass from one person to another. Normally, healthy people have functional immune systems that allow them to reduce the influence of most pathogens and recover relatively quickly in the aftermath of an illness. However, in hospitals, people with compromised immune systems are frequently exposed to a wide variety of pathogenic substances that can harm them or potentially kill them. Hospital staff can reduce the likelihood of this harmful exposure by reducing the amounts of pathogens carried on their clothing.

General categories of common pathogens include bacteria, viruses and fungi. Bacteria, in particular, present potentially serious problems in hospital settings, where they can linger on surfaces (including clothing) and eventually get transferred from patients to personnel, from personnel to patients, between patients or between personnel. Certain types of these pathogens — including specific forms of bacteria that can cause pneumonia and dangerous staph infections — have gained at least a partial resistance to the antibiotic medications commonly used to treat them, and therefore pose special risks for hospitalized individuals with compromised immune systems.

In hospitals, surgeons, doctors and nurses commonly wear attire known as “scrubs.” A scrub uniform typically consists of a lightweight scrub t-shirt and long pants that are easily washable and provide relatively few places for dirt to accumulate or go unnoticed. Variations on this basic uniform include long-sleeved scrubs and under-scrub shirts. Despite the precautions built into the design of scrubs, this clothing often harbors pathogens that can be carried from person to person. In a study published in 2011 in the “American Journal of Infection Control,” Israeli scientists examined the work clothing of a major university hospital in Jerusalem. They found that fully 60 percent of this clothing carried at least one dangerous bacterial pathogen; 11 percent of those pathogens showed resistance to more than one type of antibiotic.

Hospital personnel can reduce their chance of harboring dangerous pathogen in their clothing by wearing under-scrub shirts that incorporate modern, antimicrobial technology into their design. This technology utilizes a specially designed polyester material that contains two active constituents: activated carbon and a microscopic substance called nano silver. When bacteria (and fungi) come in contact with this material, two things happen. First, the activated carbon on the surface of the material pulls in individual bacteria and fungi and holds them in place. Next, nano silver in the material’s interior counteracts these pathogens and effectively renders them harmless.

In addition to neutralizing bacteria and fungi, antibacterial scrubs eliminate the odors associated with those microorganisms. A well-designed antibacterial nursing t-shirt, hospital t-shirt or long-sleeve scrub also typically incorporates several features that make them more accommodating to the user. These features include softness, a good fit, easy breathability, the ability to wick away excessive moisture, resistance to UV rays, lack of tags on the fabric’s inner surfaces, seams that eliminate or reduce the potential for chafing, and a length that allows the shirt to stay tucked in when necessary.