Lab coats are essential in many scientific and medical fields. They protect the workers’ street clothes and sometimes their skin as well from biological or chemical spills. Originally used by doctors to protect their clothes from blood and other bodily fluids, this protective garb is used widely today in many scientific fields. Among those who wear lab coats regularly are doctors, nurses, pharmacists and various other health care professionals; veterinarians and their assistants; technicians in all kinds of laboratories, along with scientists, chemists and electronics technicians, among others.
As one nurse wrote on a bulletin board about why she wears colored lab coats: “It serves me 3 purposes: keeps me warm, has lots of pockets, covers up my butt.”
For instance, in many hospitals only senior medical staff has the privilege of wearing long lab coats, while interns and residents wear shorter, jacket-style consultation coats. Lab technicians, phlebotomists (people who draw and analyze blood samples) and others may wear long coats with elasticized sleeves or sleeves ending in knit cuffs to fit snugly. This keeps the sleeve from dragging through a biological or chemical sample, or catching on a piece of a equipment.
Lab coats are designed to be removed quickly in a case of a spill. That’s why most knee-length coats tend to snap closed, while shorter lab coats often have zippers.
Colored lab coats today are most often made from a polyester-cotton blend material. This combination of synthetic and natural fibers results in a fabric that resists spills, doesn’t wrinkle and can be treated to retard damage and injuries from fire and corrosive chemicals such as acid.
What’s more, lab coats are designed to be stripped off quickly if something hazardous spills on them. Longer coats typically have snaps or buttons, while shorter jackets tend to have zippers.
A basic unisex white lab coat can be purchased for $20 or less, while colored lab coats cost $25 to $35 dollars for both men’s and women’s styles. Long lab coats typically come in light blue, navy, gray or green, with tan and burgundy coats available by special order.