How Important are Medical Gowns during Covid 19 Pandemic

Medical Gowns - Personal Protective Equipment

Gowns are an example of PPE used in health care sector.  They are used to prevent the wearer from the spread of any kind of infection or illness. It must also be used to help prevent the wearer from transferring any viruses that could harm vulnerable people, such as those with weakened immunity.  Gowns are one part of an overall infection-control approach.

A few terms that have been used to refer to the gowns manufactured for use in health care sector, include surgical gowns, isolation gowns, nonsurgical gowns, operating room gowns, and procedural gowns.

As the corona virus spreads, global health care systems have become engulfed with potentially infectious patients seeking testing and care. To prevent the spread of infection to and from health care workers and patients relies totally on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE)gloves, face masks, air-purifying respirators, goggles, face shields, respirators and gowns. An enormous shortage of all of these products has developed a high demand in health sector. An increase in supply of PPE kits in response to this new demand will require a large increase in PPE manufacturing, a process that will take time many healthcare industries do not have sufficient means available due to the tremendous increase in the number of corona virus patients.

During these extremely difficult times, face masks are used in different ways to protect us from viruses and microbes. During thi time when healthcare industry became afflicted, saving resources consciously and cancelling nonemergency procedures is the need of the hour.

Several studies reflect that while protective clothing and other measures provide protection during wearing and taking off. PPE kit involves complex procedures which are often not familiar to the staff. Violations of guidelines and contamination are common, particularly during disposing off. Practical training, rehearsal of the usage of products all appear to improve the procedural protocol.

Healthcare workers in the primary settings are at a greater risk of COVID-19 than the general population. The main cause of transmission are thought to be via droplet spread and surfaces like clothing and door handles that can become contaminated with pathogens when touched by the carrier of an infection and can transmit the pathogens to those who next touch the surfaces. PPE helps to reduce the spread of droplets or other body fluids to the skin and clothes and thereby reduce the risk of secondary spread to other sensory organs. 

Policy guidance from various bodies (e.g. World Health Organization (WHO)) emphasizes the need to assess the contagion risk of an indirect contact and use the recommended combination of equipment in that scenario.

The WHO Distinguishes Different Levels of Risk for Example:

  1. Standard precautions e.g. for staff conducting the process of sorting victims: hand hygiene requires any patient with suspected COVID-19 infection to wear a facemask.
  2. ‘Contact and droplet precautions’ for suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 not involving AGPs: requires hand hygiene, surgical mask, gown, goggles, gloves;
  3. ‘Airborne precautions’ for suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 requiring healthcare facility admission and: requires hand hygiene, respiratory mask, gown, goggles, gloves;
  4. Collection of specimens for the laboratory diagnosis: requires hand hygiene, respirator mask, gown, goggles, gloves plus additional precautions.

 Discussion

In the above passages, we have discussed that how reusable gowns are safer, more cost-effective, and offers greater sustainability in comparison to the disposable gowns. However, reusable gowns widely remain unused due to several conditions. The first is safety scenario is: although reusable gowns are available in several layers of protection, all of which meet or exceed the required safety standards, institutions using them may still worry that reusable gowns could lose protective capacity with repeated wash and care. Numerous studies have shown that this concern can be addressed by adding layers to aid in resisting the absorption. Henceforth, the protective capacity of reusable gowns can be addressed and need not be an obstacle in adoption.

Reusable isolation gowns offer a great opportunity to reduce the environmental impact across their lifetime. While the manufacturing of reusable gowns might be very energy consuming than disposable gowns over their lifetime, reusable gowns use less energy, produce less waste and generate lesser greenhouse emissions compared to the disposable gowns.

In a systematic evaluation of gowns that includes the impacts of manufacturing, packaging, and disposal of gowns in comparison to reusable gowns, reusable gowns are often found to consume 28% less energy over the life cycle of product.

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