Disposable vs. Reusable
Isolation gowns are available in different levels of protection. Studies have shown that their use is associated with a reduced infection rate. Disposable (or single use) isolation gowns are meant to be discarded after one use. They are typically made from non-woven materials alone or with other materials that offer higher protection from liquids, compared to reusable isolation gowns the non-woven fibre-bonding technologies used in making them provide higher integrity and strength compared to reusables.
Reusable isolation gowns are typically made from 100% cotton, 100% polyester, or a blend of both. They can be used for up to 50 washing and drying cycles, subject to the manufacturer’s suggestions. However, the orientation of the fibers of non-woven fabrics used in making disposable isolation gowns reduces liquid transmission by providing filtering media and reducing capillary formation. The ideal isolation or medical gown has characteristics such as barrier-effectiveness, functionality, comfort, cost-effectiveness, strength, biocompatibility, and quality maintenance.
Disposable isolation gowns like ours meet the AAMI level 3 Standard and are sterile. As such, they offer fluid barrier protection against fluid penetration that might take place from blood draws or splatters. They are thus ideal for the isolation settings involving COVID-19. Typical woven fabrics with which most reusable isolation gowns are made fail to adequately protect medical professionals from contagious diseases.
Non-woven fabrics (which are used to make disposable gowns) are made from recycling unused fibers. These non-woven fabrics may be based on substances like polyethylene which is a thermoplastic. This material is thus light but strong and highly liquid repellent. Woven fabrics that are used to make reusable isolation gowns are made using a loom.
On the loom, a weft moves in upward and downwards movement to create the fabric. The warp then moves across these to finish the fabric. The result is a criss-cross pattern most of us are familiar with on cotton dresses and tablecloths. Even though they may be tightly woven, they still have spaces that the smallest microbes can pass through. Non-woven fabrics, on the other hand, are not put together in a grid-like format. Rather, it is set in one direction or no direction at all, thus giving no room for pores. The fibers are then fused with heat, mechanical processes, or chemical reactions. The result is a fabric that has no openings and as such, offers premium resistance when used to make disposable isolation gowns.
The kind of barrier provided by non-woven fabrics is essential in high risk working environments. Disposable isolation gowns make it easier to deal with incontinence and make it easy to dispose of waste where infectious bodily fluids spill on the gown. With a reusable gown, not all forms of infectious pathogens might be washed off, even when cleaned. Also, since disposable isolation gowns come pre-packaged, they are sterile, thus preventing the contamination of wounds.
What are the benefits of using disposable isolation gowns?
A good isolation gown should protect from the spread of bacteria by direct contamination through the gown. The gown serves as a barrier to fluid and microbial transmission during operations or high-risk activities in contaminated environments. They have long sleeves and elastic cuffs that maintain a sterile barrier between the field of operations and the clothes of the healthcare worker under the gown. Isolation gowns are made from impermeable material that is liquid-resistant.
Why disposable gowns are better…
Disposable isolation gowns, though designed for single use, have a lower cost of maintenance compared to reusables. Reusable gowns have to be washed and sterilized repeatedly, which means the additional cost of acquiring washing and sterilizing agents. Also, to ensure that the gown stays in the original state and doesn’t lose its resistant properties, the right kind of agents must be used. When the wrong type, it could either destroy or weaken the gown in this case. As such, the use of reusable medical gowns has higher associated risks.
Disposable isolation gowns are easy to dispose of. Some reusable gowns are made from polyester which is expensive to recycle and can take up to 200 years to decompose. Other reusables made from cotton tend to be more expensive due to the cost of cotton.
Disposable isolation gowns are made for use in clinical and laboratory samples. They help protect from the transfer from microorganisms and bodily fluids in low and minimal risk patient isolation situations. They also have AAMI level 3 certification. This guarantees protection from fluid spills. They are light in weight and heat sealed to ensure no spaces like woven fabrics are used to make reusable isolation gowns. Most of them also come in universal sizes.
Whether polypropylene, polyethylene, or a combination of both, disposable isolation gowns generally offer a better user experience and are more cost-effective, compared to reusables.