August 22, 2023

Study: Transitioning back to reusable surgical gowns

Editor's Note

In this study, researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, examine the feasibility of transitioning back to reusable surgical gowns and the corresponding cost savings and reductions in solid waste.

Disposable surgical gowns were replaced with polyester reusable surgical gowns with AAMI level III barrier protection that were introduced into the OR workflow in two 3-week phases.

The two phases involved 223 sterile staff (103 surgeons and 120 scrub technicians) involved in 618 surgical procedures across two sites.

Among the findings:

  • Staff use of reusable gowns improved from a baseline of 0% to 88.6% (97 of 110) to 93.6% (110 of 118) over the two phases.
  • Together the two phases reduced 371 pounds of solid waste and saved 2 cents per reusable gown.
  • End users who were completely satisfied increased from 22.9% (8 of 35) to 58.3% (35 of 60).
  • Enthusiasm for broad adoption was especially strong among surgeons; however, some declined to participate because of perceptions of sterility for cases involving implants, transplants, or chemotherapy infusion.

If implemented, the researchers say they project that more than 30,000 pounds of solid waste would be averted annually, with associated cost savings from landfill aversion.

JAMA (healthcare publication) Network logo


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