Preventing disease transmission in patients and healthcare workers has taken on greater significance in today’s healthcare environment with the emergence of new pathogens, multi-drug resistant organisms, and increased economic pressures to reduce healthcare associated infections. During a surgical procedure, both the patient and members of the surgical team are at risk for transmission of infectious agents, not only through direct contact with blood and body fluids, but also through bacterial penetration of barrier fabrics. Therefore, surgical barrier materials have two purposes: they must protect the patient from exposure to microorganisms that may be present in the patient’s own microbial flora, the operating Room (OR) environment, or on members of the surgical team; and they must protect the surgical team from microorganisms that may be shed by the patient.
The selection and use of surgical gowns are essential components of an effective infection prevention program; therefore, perioperative nurses must be knowledgeable about barrier fabric qualities in order to select and use gowns appropriately in the OR practice setting. This continuing education activity will provide a review of the key considerations for the appropriate selection and use of surgical gowns as an infection prevention measure for both patients and the surgical team. The rationale for the use of surgical gowns in providing an effective barrier to disease transmission will be discussed. Standards and guidelines pertaining to the selection and use of surgical gowns published by various federal agencies and professional organizations will be reviewed. The Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) standard, Liquid Barrier Performance and Classification of Protective Apparel and Drapes Intended for Use in Health Care Facilities (AAMI/ANSI PB70), that provides an objective standard to select the proper level of protection needed for specific procedures, will be highlighted. Key criteria in the appropriate selection and use of surgical gowns will be outlined.
Finally, a case study will provide the participant with the opportunity to synthesize the information and evaluate a workplace scenario related to surgical gown selection and use.