I live in South Waterfront, near OHSU, and I see people wearing scrubs everywhere. If scrubs are worn to maintain cleanliness in the hospital, doesn’t wearing them out to Little Big Burger defeat the purpose?

—Justly Concerned

Personally, Concerned, I'd rather stroll around in Fred Flintstone's leopard-print onesie than be caught dead in scrubs. They're the main reason—aside from my extensive criminal record and inability to get up before 5 pm—that I didn't pursue a career in medicine.

Nevertheless, these sacklike garments—which are furnished by prisons specifically to dehumanize the inmates—are so popular with medical professionals that OHSU has to employ special, locked scrubs vending machines to limit each person to just three sets per day.

The people who sell these machines say they're necessary to combat the widespread theft of scrubs by employees who want to wear them on their own time, which is a bit like finding out that Roto-Rooter has to take steps to keep its plumbers from stealing turds from work.

That said, scrubs are the de facto uniform for many health workers, and you can't really fault folks for not changing clothes just to go to lunch. If it's any consolation, your surgeon doesn't walk directly into the operating room from Starbucks; staffers always change into fresh scrubs before entering a sterile environment.

As for those who wear scrubs when they're not on the clock, I would only note that more fashion crimes have been committed in the name of comfort than any other, and scrubs are about as close as you can get to wandering around in sweat pants and a bathrobe without getting hauled off to the drunk tank. What's the difference between a doctor and the Dude from The Big Lebowski? The Dude doesn't think he's a doctor.

QUESTIONS? Send them to dr.know@wweek.com