Medical devices

Surgical Gowns – Use & Health Benefits

Surgical gown

The surgical gown is assigned to the generic term “surgical clothing”. As a medical product, its task is to prevent the spread of pathogens in the surgical wound area or to reduce it to a minimum. The aim is to avoid postoperative wound infection .

What is a surgical gown?

The European standard series DIN EN 13795 defines the requirements for medical products. The surgical gown must be sterile and form an effective germ barrier. It has defined functional and mechanical properties and is designed and made of material in such a way that particle emissions are reduced to a minimum. In this regard, the 8th GPSGV and BGR 189 for protective clothing must also be observed.

If surgical gowns are worn in the surgical areas in which there is a risk of pathogens or infection , they must have an additional label according to the 8th GPSGV in order to be classified as “PPE”, “personal protective clothing”. The manufacturers and the BGR 189 rule provide information on this point.

Shapes, Species & Types

There are two material classes of surgical textiles: liquid-tight (high performance) and pathogen-tight (standard performance). There are disposable and reusable gowns. A synonym is surgical gown, since the surgical gown does not only protect the chest, stomach and leg area like a normal household gown, but also includes the arms with cuffs like a gown and extends to the neck.

There are wrap-around gowns, slip-on gowns and gowns that tie at the back. Surgical gowns are mainly made of spunlace, a fabric-like, sterilizable viscose material. Depending on the application, they are available in different shapes, sizes, materials and colors. Sterilizable textiles made from 100 percent cotton are also used.

The main colors are green, blue and white. These different colors do have their meaning. For rounds in the hospital or in the doctor’s office, doctors wear white work clothing consisting of trousers, a shirt and a smock. Green or blue surgical clothing is used in the infection-sensitive surgical areas. The clinics set a restrictive dress code for all areas, which determines which clothes are to be worn in which rooms. Green scrubs are worn by doctors when they carry out operations that are sensitive to infection, the blue color is mostly used for all other operations.

In this way, hospital visitors and patients can distinguish between the surgeons working in the operating theater and colleagues who work outside of these infection-sensitive areas. The differently colored area clothing helps the medical staff to notice these differences immediately and to optimally implement hygiene regulations. Physicians must remove their green scrubs within the operating room before leaving this sensitive area, so as not to transmit germs and other pathogens to the less demanding rooms and patients in this regard. Failure to comply with this dress code may otherwise introduce microbes to physicians upon return to the operating room.

The different colors have other meanings. Hospital logistics are simplified because the flow of laundry is easier to control. The cleaning staff immediately recognize which clothes are involved and can sort them accordingly. Uniforms from operating theaters require higher cleaning requirements than white clothing that doctors only wear during rounds.

Visual points are also taken into account. White scrubs reflect the bright and artificial light from the surgical lights and can cause eye strain or glare. Green surgical gowns are harmless in this respect. Green textiles also have a calming effect and prevent the afterimage effect that always occurs when a doctor looks at a red wound for a long time and then his gaze falls on white textiles. This problem rarely occurs with green and blue textiles. The mental health of the patients is also taken into account. Blood stains on a white background look much more threatening than on green or blue textiles.

Structure & functionality

Colored surgical clothing facilitates visual perception. Therefore, most surgical gowns are green. The OP is an area of ​​protection level 2 (TRBA 250) and may only be entered by authorized personnel.

The surgical gown is primarily used to control liquids and is to be emphasized from a hygienic point of view. In medical activities where there is an increased risk of communicable diseases through bodily fluids and blood , the surgical gown prevents contamination of the medical staff with pathogens. No high demands are made on the absorbency, unless it is an endoscopic procedure that involves a high proportion of liquid. Surgical clothing prevents direct contact of the skin and body surface of the medical staff with wounds , blood and body fluids of the patients.

The protection of patients takes precedence over the ecological aspects of reprocessing. Several studies have proven that there are no differences between disposable and reusable textiles in terms of ecological balance. However, they must not contain any harmful ingredients such as endotoxins or heavy metals that make disposal difficult.

Medical & health benefits

The surgical gown in its current form has not existed for long. As early as 1952, the American physician William C. Beck called for liquid-repellent surgical gowns in all clinical areas, since liquids promote the spread of pathogens.

Nowadays, surgical gowns are used for single and multiple use. Today’s “gold standard” is liquid-repellent and liquid-tight up to a certain material thickness. The European directive cited above defines the properties that surgical textiles, including surgical gowns, must have in order to be classified as a medical device. They must have a microbiological purity (bioburden), be repellent to particulate material (foreign material), release particles on the surface, be resistant to liquid penetration, be tear and burst-resistant when wet and dry, and be comfortable to wear. The surgical gown is ergonomic and allows sufficient freedom of movement.

Surgical scrubs are put on over underwear after changing in the surgical sluice and are only worn inside the surgical area.

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.