prevent glove roll-down on surgical
gowns or bacterial filtration on face
masks provide ultimate barrier protec-
tion. Similarly, surgical apparel that will not
tear or let liquids seep through is critical as this
plays a role in infection prevention.”
Additional important features include flame-resistance and the
ability to resist linting and abrasions that can transfer particulates to the
surgical wound, implants, or guide wires.
One of the most common safety concerns related to surgical apparel
is glove barrier failure. This is true even with the increased prevalence
of double gloving. As a result, AORN recommends that two pairs of
surgical gloves, one over the other, should be worn during surgical and
other invasive procedures with the potential for exposure to blood,
body fluids, or other potentially infectious materials. When double
gloves are worn, perforation indicator systems should be used.
When it comes to headwear, the most effective products are clean,
low-lint head covers that cover all hair and scalp skin.
“Compliance with surgical attire policy can be challenging, especially with head coverings,” says Gorog. “Fashionable reusable head
coverings have grown popular, however, they may not fully contain hair
and may be infrequently laundered at home.
Skull caps may fail to contain the side hair above and in front of the
ears and hair at the nape of the neck,” she adds.
What To Do
Every hospital and medical facility should conduct regular reviews
of their surgical apparel policy and compare it with the most recent
facility data related to infection control.
“Have a solid understanding of the various levels of protection as
outlined in AAMI PB70 and ensure adequate protection is purchased
and assigned appropriately based on the anticipated risk for exposure,”
says Shelley Petrovskis, Director of Marketing, Lac-Mac, Inc.
According to Gorog, it is important to use all the data on hand to
educate staff on selecting the most appropriate product for each procedure. After all, what is considered proper attire for one procedure may
be far from effective at protecting patients and staff in other scenarios in
“Manufacturers are required to provide product labeling of barrier
protection levels," she continues. “There are several CEU programs
available to educate staff on barrier protection and current guidelines. I
recommend my customers look to their manufacturer to provide tools
that enable them to make educated choices on surgical apparel products
that fit their needs.”
Choosing surgical apparel with the above characteristics that meets
or exceeds performance standards and guidelines established by or-
ganizations such as AORN, OSHA, AAMI, NIOSH, and the FDA for
strength, barrier protection, and flame resistance helps maintain patient
safety and prevents healthcare-associated infections cannot be over-
looked. It is a key component to a hospital’s efforts to ensure staff safety
and improve patient outcomes. However, just as important is selecting
apparel that mirrors staff preference to ensure it is being worn properly
-- and at all times.
Surgical Apparel Should Be:
• Easy to don and doff
• Low or non-flammable
• Resistant to tearing
• Provide an excellent barrier to fluids and
microorganisms – the amount of fluid protec-
tion required will be dependent on the proced-
ure being performed