When it comes to certain jobs in industries like restaurant, tourism, and fitness, it’s customary for workers to wear name tags. What if you’re told that this same practice is now being adopted by medical practitioners like doctors and nurses. Would you believe it?

Just imagine a surgeon wearing a scrub cap with their name and their profession on it. It’s unconventional for sure and you might even raise an eyebrow confused as to what the purpose is behind it. Well, this small, seemingly odd idea is actually changing the medical world by contributing to patient safety in the operating theatre.

It all began in Sydney, Australia when anaesthetist Dr. Rob Hackett came up with the idea to put “Rob… Anaesthetist” across his scrub cap when he’s at work. At first, he received a couple of side remarks from his colleagues saying, “Can’t you remember your own name?” Little did they know; this small gesture would be adopted by medical practitioners all over the world just six months after he started doing it.

The intent behind Dr. Hackett’s ides was to prevent delays and embarrassing situations in the operating room, which is likely to happen because all his colleagues (himself included) wear scrubs with their faces covered behind their masks. With the scrub cap writing, medical practitioners are able to identify what each person’s role is while working.  

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He recalls past situations when confusion happened in the operating room. “Last Friday, I went to a cardiac arrest in a theatre where there were about 20 people in the room. 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,” Dr. Hackett said.

There have also been times where medical students were accidentally asked to do tasks they weren’t qualified to do because they were mistaken for being qualified surgeons. Even more so, anaesthetists have lost precious time when they couldn’t remember the names of people in the operating room.

According to the John Hopkins University research, medical error is the third leading cause of death with more than 250,000 people dying every year based on an eight-year data study. Medical error falls just behind heart disease and cancer in the rankings for causation of death.

Writing on a scrub cap won’t solve everything but it could potentially help decrease that 250,000 death count.

With the goal to reduce the chances of medical error and confusion that happens across all hospitals and clinics, Dr. Hackett’s brilliant idea emerged and it has worked marvellously, so much so that medical staff across Australia, the UK, US, South America and Europe started sharing their photos online with their names and job titles written across their foreheads using the hashtag #TheatreCapChallenge.

This small but significant practice also goes beyond the operating room. Dr. Hackett said, “when you work across four or five hospitals and with hundreds of people, I’d say 75% of staff I walk past I don’t know their name. It’s quite awkward.” Well, at least it won’t be so awkward anymore and it might even strengthen camaraderie amongst all workers. Medical practitioners that work together can now put names to their colleagues faces and possibly get further acquainted with each other.

Overall, this idea panned out to be revolutionary. Why wasn’t this thought of sooner? Who knows but what matters is that it’s happening now and kudos to Dr. Hackett for thinking of it and putting it into action!  


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