Doctor’s Decision To Write Name On Scrub Cap Now Saves Lives Around The World

by : UNILAD on : 12 Dec 2017 14:08
Rob Hackett / Twitter

One doctor’s simple decision to write his name on his scrub cap has changed the healthcare world.

Sydney based anaesthetist Dr Rob Hackett one day decided to write his name and job title on his scrub cap not knowing that this ‘awkward’ decision would go on to save lives and improve safety in hospitals across the world.


Dr Hackett made the decision to avoid any potential mix-ups in the operating theatre – people can easily be mistaken for someone else or simply not know a colleague’s name – an uncomfortable solution to an embarrassing situation.

Rob Hackett / Twitter

Writing ‘Rob – Anaesthetist’ in bold black font on his cap, it was quite the statement to make that initially received a mixed reaction from his colleagues.


You look a little daft because not everyone is doing it. There were some snide remarks, like ‘can’t you remember your name’.

However Rob took the criticism and jokes well because he knew he was doing it for the right reason.

Rob had witnessed delays in performing chest compressions on patients in cardiac arrest because nobody knew who had been tasked with the job since no one in the operating theatre had referred to anyone by name.


In medical emergencies, every second counts and so delays like this can be the difference between life and death.

He continued:

When you work across four or five hospitals and with hundreds of people, I’d say 75 per cent of staff I walk past I don’t know their name. It’s quite awkward.

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.

It’s so much easier to coordinate when you know everyone’s names. It’s great for camaraderie and it’s great for patients as well.


Now the idea has been embraced around the world as hundreds of medical staff have taken on what is now being called the ‘theatre cap challenge’.

Healthcare workers from surgeons to midwives are have been scrawling their names and titles onto their caps and sharing selfies on social media.

Although their campaign has been met with some criticism by those opposed to the change, the majority of medical staff are taking it on to promote patient safety.


Dr John Quinn, Executive Director of Surgical Affairs at the Royal Australian College of Surgeons, called the campaign ‘a fine idea’.

He added:

Anything that increases safety for patients in operating theatres is a good thing.

I don’t see a downside to it.

I guess it’s just a matter of whether they use their full name or first name, though just ‘Tim’ is better than anything in a crisis.

Rob has once again shown that sometimes an awkward decision in the short term can make a huge difference in the long run.

Topics: Health


The Sydney Morning Herald
  1. The Sydney Morning Herald

    Rabble-rousing surgical staff wear their names on their caps to stop mix-ups and improve patient safety