Here are the reason why blue or green color is preferred for scrubs and beds in hospitals.

Green and Blue colors are opposite to red on the color wheel

The color wheel was developed in an attempt to explain color perception in human eyes. In his book “Theory of


Colors”, the famous poet Goethe has written, “…for the colors diametrically opposed to each other… are those that reciprocally evoke each other in the eye.”
Retinal Cone cells have three types of pigments for the perception of red (erythrolabe), green (chlorolabe) and bluish-violet (cyanolabe) colors. They undergo a reaction similar to the visual cycle of rhodopsin in Rod cells. When the surrounding objects are green or blue colored, the pigment for red color gets enough time to resynthesize, thus enabling the surgeon to detect even small hemorrhages in the operation field.
This phenomenon is also important in the medicine wards (inpatient departments) to identify blood in patient’s clothes or bed. If the bed cover were red or orange or pink it would have been more difficult to detect.



Blood stain is difficult to remove from clothes

So once the bed gets soiled with blood its mark would remain even after three or four washings, new patients would find it annoying and uncomfortable to use that cloth or bed cover, this is a practical issue in resource-poor countries where the same cloth is used after disinfection. Light colors (like white, yellow, pink etc) are avoided for this reason also.


Image showing surgeons in Green-scrub-in-Operation-Room


Easy on eye

In operating rooms under the bright flashlight (called Operating Light or Surgical Lighthead) it would be extremely difficult to focus due to the glare of reflected light from the white clothing, draping or OT table cover. Green color absorbs all other colors of the visual spectrum and reflects only the green color, so it is much relaxing to our eyes.
It is scientifically confirmed (references – 1 and 2) that green color is relaxing to both our eye and mind, so it is a good choice in hospital settings.


Cultural Relation

The Red color is avoided for cultural reasons also…in some culture red signifies death. Red is a danger sign, (traffic light, Alarms), attention grabbing (e.g. in fire extinguishers). So it is better avoided in hospital settings to reduce psychological stress.




  1. What’s in a Color? The Unique Human Health Effects of Blue Light,

  2. Seeing Life through Positive-Tinted Glasses: Color–Meaning Associations, PLoS One.



This article was first published on the Medical Community Forum of The Paradigm Shift Group as a discussion. Question asked by @openmind, answer by @robin-williams. Edited by @narayan and the editors of this website.


Image Attribution

Color Wheel – By JacobolusOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link



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