The fabric used to make isolation gowns must provide the same level of liquid barrier protection as the rest of the gown. They must also cover all parts of the user's body, depending on the intended use. Surgical isolation gowns are also available in disposable and reusable varieties. The CDC recommends using reusable gowns when possible to minimize contamination risk.
Surgical isolation gowns are rated according to their barrier properties against liquid-borne pathogens. AAMI has created a standard for the protection they offer, and hospitals can find the appropriate level on a product's label. In the US, the highest-rated surgical gowns meet the requirements for Level 4 protection. Level 1 gowns are deemed insufficient for surgical purposes. The lowest-rated gowns, however, are Class 2 devices and should be AAMI Level 3.
Since COVID-19 has been causing shortages of disposable surgical gowns, hospitals have turned to washable and reusable options. These reusable gowns can withstand multiple uses and a variety of conditions. They're also long-lasting, meaning hospitals won't run out and search for next month's supply. This is one of the reasons why hospitals should switch to reusable surgical isolation gowns. And it's important to note that sterilization is still a critical part of maintaining patient safety.
Surgical isolation gowns should have multiple layers to provide adequate barrier protection. This includes a non-protective back. The back should be fully covered by an isolation gown to provide a level of protection. The ANSI/AAMI PB70 standard specifies four levels of fluid barrier protection. These levels are described in the table below. The levels of barrier protection for surgical isolation gowns are based on the anticipated exposure to fluid.
Surgical isolation gowns are designed to protect health care staff from blood droplets and solid or liquid debris. They protect against infectious diseases such as hepatitis B and C. They are also a necessity during trauma cases. Infections may occur when patients' skin is soiled or infected with blood. Surgical isolation gowns are necessary when contamination risk is high and patients are exposed to contaminated fluids.