In the last couple decades, blood-borne diseases, like HIV, Hepatitis B and C and others have become a serious talking points – so much so that sharps safety has become an unofficial never event, double gloving is trending and OSHA requires facilities to provide fluid-resistant apparel to its staff.
While sharps safety and double gloving have been evaluated at length, the importance of fluid resistant surgical apparel has been ignored. After all – healthcare professionals are famous for thinking of themselves last. But, to help patients, healthcare staff need to help themselves stay healthy. One way to do that is to protect yourself from fluid-borne diseases by donning the correct surgical gowns.
Most surgical gown suppliers offer ASTM International rated options. The protection levels range from one, being the least resistant, to four.
The gowns should be chosen based on the surgical procedure. Procedures with heavy fluids, like in some open cases, should be paired with level four gowns, while other procedures with less fluids, like minimally invasive options, traditionally require less protection. Different roles in the OR also dictate different levels of protection. The more involved physicians need more protection, with less involved staff typically requiring minimal protection, like level one gowns.
Which Gown is the Best?
Each supplier has their own version of the level one through four gowns and totes studies saying they are the best. Untimely, the best fluid-resistant gown is the one worn consistency.
Since OSHA requires facilities provide fluid-resistant gowns, options should be available. The ratings should also appear on gown packaging, and some suppliers include the ratings on the gowns themselves.
Even if a facility has fluid-resistant apparel available, factors like age and storage methods can jeopardize gown quality. Ensure protection by asking questions, such as:
- What level ratings to these gowns offer?
- How old are these gowns?
- What surgical apparel guidelines does our facility have?