How Isolation Gowns Can Help in Infection Control

Isolation Gowns
December 22, 2021

As infectious diseases such as Ebola, Hepatitis B, avian influenza, the recent coronavirus outbreak, etc., keep rising, the need for PPEs will also continue to increase. PPEs are an essential part of healthcare. They protect workers against risks at the job and help prevent emergencies. These threats could include anything from slippery wet floors to getting affected by a deadly virus. A range of items fall under the PPE category, isolation gowns being one. In reality, several experts claim that medical gowns are the second most essential part of PPE for healthcare staff. Gloves being the first.

What is an isolation gown?

Are you also wondering, What is an isolation gown? The AAMI defines it as clothing apparel used to protect against the transfer of microorganisms in patients’ isolation situations. In other, simpler words, isolation gowns protect the wearer from catching potentially dangerous infections from patients or colleagues. There are three kinds of medical gowns: surgical gowns, surgical isolation gowns, and non-surgical gowns. You must understand that isolation gowns differ from surgical and non-surgical gowns. Although isolation gowns are one type of surgical gown, each’s functions vary significantly. The primary difference lies amongst the critical zones of each gown. We will elaborate on levels and critical zones further below.

What are the isolation gown levels?

Now that we know that isolation gowns can help in infection controls, let’s talk about isolation gown levels and their four different levels of protection:
  • Level one is minimal risk. It means that professionals use these gowns during basic care checks, visits from patients, and standard medical units.
  • Level two is low risk. Here, the healthcare staff uses these types of gowns for something a bit more serious. It includes drawing blood clots etc.
  • Level three is moderate risk. These gowns are ideal for scenarios such as arterial blood flow, inserting IVs, trauma work, etc.
  • Level four, the final level, is high risk. These gowns provide the highest possible level of protection against any health hazard during or post-surgery/treatment/diagnoses.
Usually, when there is minimal to low hazard risk, professionals prefer to use standard surgical gowns. However, when the situation becomes more serious, isolation gowns become necessary to ensure maximum safety.

Critical zones of an isolation gown

Almost every area of an isolation gown is highly crucial for peak performance. You can also say that all parts are interdependent. The critical zone of an isolation gown includes the entire gown area except for the cuff, hems, and bindings. Healthcare staff usually use these gowns when there is a medium to high risk of contamination.

Disposable or reusable isolation gown?

Studies show that even though there has been massive development in the efficiency of reusable gowns, only a tiny proportion of hospitals use them. Although you can thoroughly wash and cleanse reusable gowns with advanced detergents and cleaners, there will always be a minimal risk of infection. Professionals believe that it is best to dispose of any potential virus carriers after interacting with an infected patient. However, recent studies have shown pretty contrary findings to the beliefs mentioned above. One study quoted that disposable gowns failed to meet AAMI’s ‘impact water penetration performance’ specifications. They also couldn’t fulfill the American Society for Testing and Materials performance criteria. Another study reported that nearly 52% of disposable gowns were unable to meet even the lowest protection requirements of AAMI. On the other hand, reusable isolation gown has proven to be highly effective in infection control and transmission of bacteria. However, you must ensure that you carefully and entirely wash, sponge, cleanse, and scrub these gowns after every use.

What to evaluate when choosing an isolation gown?

Here are a few things you must constantly evaluate before choosing an isolation gown.

1.    Material

Material is highly critical when it comes to surgical isolation gowns. The last thing you want on-call is to stay uncomfortable because of your gown. Therefore, it would help if you carefully researched the material before purchasing a gown. Usually, disposable gowns are a product of polyethylene or polypropylene, whereas cotton and synthetic materials make reusable gowns. Synthetic materials such as poly-cotton and polyester are also proven to be more effective in protection against Covid-19.

2.    Purpose

The purpose behind a gown is also crucial. Who will be wearing these gowns and during which sitting? Answers to such questions can help narrow the kind of isolation gown you require.

3.    Risk level

You must know the level of risk you are willing to take for one gown. As mentioned above, both disposable and reusable gowns come with specific risks. It would help if you evaluated your risks based on the type of exposure and the environment when you will have to wear the gown.

Conclusion

Although isolation gowns are not a new invention for the healthcare industry, they are indeed a new attraction for the general population. Amidst the coronavirus outbreak, an increasing number of people have become familiar with the concept of medical gowns and their benefits. It led to increased awareness and a drastic increase in their demand. Isolation gowns serve as one of the most necessary pieces of equipment for all of the medical staff. Not only do they help in infection control, but they also ensure enhanced productivity and increased efficiency. Wearing isolation gowns gives the medical staff a sense of safety. It raises their confidence and encourages them to give their best. It also leads to improved patient care and quicker recovery.  

Recent Blogs