Isolation gowns are essential equipment for infection-control strategies. They are the second most used PPE items after gloves. They were originally designed for health workers but can also be worn by random people to protect them from infections when they come in contact with infected people or substances.
The different types of isolation gowns
There are two major types of isolation gowns made for healthcare purposes:
- Surgical gowns: A surgical gown is a personal protective garment that is used by healthcare practitioners during healthcare procedures. Surgical gowns are worn to shield both the health practitioners and patients from the transmission of microorganisms, body fluids, and other substances which can cause infection.
- Non-surgical gowns: Non-surgical gowns are known as class 1 devices and they are made to protect wearers from the transfer of microorganisms in minimal risk patient isolation circumstances.
Non-surgical gowns, like surgical gowns, should cover the body appropriately.
The factors to consider when buying isolation gowns
Certain medical gowns fit into certain contexts more than others, and if you are looking for a medical and isolation gown manufacturer, to purchase items for your hospital for instance, note that there are factors to consider.
The purpose of the isolation gown
In selecting an isolation gown, you have to determine who will wear it and in what context it will be worn. For example, in minimal risk isolation centers, non-surgical gowns come in handy.
On the other hand, surgeons or health practitioners in high-risk isolation locations have to go for surgical isolation gowns. The person using the isolation gown and the location in which it will be used determine what type of isolation gown you go for.
The gown’s material
Gowns can be made from polyethylene, polypropylene, cotton, or synthetic materials.
Reusable isolation gowns are usually made from cotton or synthetic materials like poly-cotton blend and polyester while disposable isolation gowns are made from polyethylene or polypropylene.
Synthetic materials are generally more effective in blocking fluids and this means they are better options in preventing the spread of Covid-19.
The risk level of the environment
The risk level of the environment and the type of exposure expected also determines the kind of gown you go for. For instance, in a low-risk environment like a blood draw, what you need is an AAMI, level 2 gown. In high-risk situations, what is needed is a level 4 gown.
AAMI stands for Association of Advancement of Medical Instrumentation.
Various standards and technical documents are developed by AAMI committees for one purpose: the enhancement of the safety and effectiveness of the use and proper management of health technologies and medical devices.
Standards are consensus-based documents that provide guidelines, specifications requirements, and characteristics that are used consistently and which ensure that products, services, and processes fit into their purposes. Standards for liquid barrier performance have been provided by ANSI/AAMIPB70:2012.
It also stipulates ratings for various levels of gown protection.
The four levels of isolation gowns
There are 4 major levels of protective material:
- AAMI Level 1: This offers minimal fluid barrier protection. For example, it can be used during basic care, as a cover gown for visitors, and in standard isolation.
- AAMI Level 2: This offers minimal to low fluid barrier protection. It is used in surgical procedures that involve low fluid and are minimally invasive.
- AAMI Level 3: This offers moderate fluid barrier protection and is used for the largest range of surgical procedures.
- AAMI Level 4: This level offers the highest fluid and microbial barrier protection. It offers protection against particles in critical zones which are blood-borne. This level of isolation gown is necessary for fluid-intensive procedures that are long. It is also important when operating on patients at risk of blood-borne pathogens.
How are isolation gowns tested?
To meet up with the standards set by organizations, isolation gowns need to undergo some tests, before being released in the market:
- Fluid and bacteriophage barrier test: This test measure the resistance of a material to blood-borne pathogens.
- Martindale abrasion test: It is a visual test for the abrasion resistance level of fabric.
- Hydrostatic pressure test: The test shows fluid resistance levels
- CPSC standard for the flammability of fabrics.
- Laser and ignition resistance.
Isolation gowns are pretty important for both the health practitioner and those who are not. They must be chosen with the understanding of who and where they are to be used. Their usage has become highly necessary in these Covid-19 times.