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June 1991

Barrier Efficiency of Surgical Gowns: Are We Really Protected From Our Patients' Pathogens?

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Surgery, Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, La.

Arch Surg. 1991;126(6):756-763. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1991.01410300102016

• Surgical gowns are traditionally worn to protect patients from contamination by the surgical team. Blood routinely covers gowns during surgery and often contaminates surgeons' undergarments and skin. Because of risks to the surgical team by blood-borne pathogens, disposable and reusable gowns were examined. To quantify "strike through," 1440 samples of gown fabric were tested against human blood in an apparatus designed to simulate abdominal pressure during surgery. Representative pressures (0.25 to 2.0 psi) and times (1 second to 5 minutes) were studied. Above 0.5 psi, spun-bond/melt-blown/spun-bond disposable products were more resistant than spun-lace cloth. New cloth gowns were better than those washed 40 times. Spunbond/melt-blown/spun-bond fabric exposed to blood twice was more protective than spun-lace cloth challenged once. Gowns currently available exhibit varying resistance to strike through; only those with an impervious plastic reinforcement offer complete protection.

(Arch Surg. 1991;126:756-763)

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