Isolation gowns are essential for the proper management of infectious diseases. This article explains why and how to choose the right gown.
We are used to seeing medical gowns as part of the personal protection elements of health professionals and health personnel. Also, we should get used to isolation gowns in hospital isolation environments, such as the one required by the current COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Robes are essential. After gloves, they are the most widely used personal protection element in the health sector in the world.
The scale of the problem is enormous. Infections increase morbidity, mortality and cost of health care.
Hospital clothing, medical devices, surfaces and waste are some of the most important objects in the chain of transmission of infections during healthcare. Microorganisms can adhere to gloves and clothing, and if there are splashes or droplets, the risk will be greater.
One of the ways to control and prevent infection is to wear isolation gowns. Its function is not only to serve as a barrier between the patient and the health personnel, but to interrupt the chain of transmission to more people.
When To Wear Isolation Gowns
Isolation gowns should be used whenever the risk of exposure to an infectious agent is presumed and therefore it is necessary to reduce contact with the organism to avoid contamination.
During medical care, three contact routes are known between people and microorganisms responsible for infections:
- By direct or indirect contact, it is the most common, microorganisms are transmitted from one person to another.
- Respiratory droplets, generated by coughing, sneezing, or talking.
- Droplet nuclei in the air: the infectious agent is in the air we breathe in the form of small particles.
Thus, there are patients who arrive at the institution with an infectious disease and must be isolated. Such is the case of the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Also, there are patients who, due to their condition or the type of treatment they receive, must be isolated to avoid infectious processes.
In these cases, it is recommended that doctors, nurses, healthcare personnel and visitors wear isolation gowns.
What Types Of Isolation Gowns Are Recommended To Wear
Obviously, the isolation gown by itself does not offer the guarantee of avoiding contamination. It is effective when it is part of a clear and safe protocol to prevent and control infections.
Which Robe to Choose?
There are different types of medical gowns, for example, surgical and protective. They would be well qualified if we said that these are “isolation”. Also, there are plastic aprons and coveralls, which are clearly identified as the preferred PPE in pandemics.
Materials vary. Basically we can say that there are disposable or single-use gowns made of non-woven materials, combinations of non-woven materials with plastics, and all-purpose gowns made of woven fabrics such as cotton.
Which to choose?
Not all gowns provide the same protection. Therefore, it is important to define what level of protection you want to obtain for what task and what product can best solve it.
Ideal Characteristics Of An Isolation Gown
Isolation gown for treating patients in hospital isolation should, ideally, meet these characteristics:
- Be effective as barriers.
- Be repellent to viruses, bacteria, dust, particles, skin scales or microorganisms.
- Allow user mobility and activity.
- Be comfortable.
- Ensure impermeability if it is required that body fluids are not transferred.
- Be resistant, not tear or detach specks.
- Be easy to put on and take off.
- Have secure moorings and closures.
- Be of low flammability.
- Allow easy storage.
- Have a reasonable cost.
According to the task to be performed, it must be defined if maximum coverage is necessary, from head to toe, or simply cover from neck to knees. If it must be repellent or repellent and waterproof. The isolation gown must or may not have reinforcements in certain areas, for example, the cuffs, abdomen and chest, where various studies have found more possibilities for leakage of body fluids.