Surgical gown life-cycle study: Reusable PPE Best for Environment

An ARTA study recently published in the AORN Journal – the Voice of Perioperative Nursing –  compared the life-cycle of reusable versus disposable surgical gowns. These gowns help protect patients from exposure to micro-organisms and serve as personal protective equipment for staff members. They are known as personal protective equipment (PPE)

Medical textiles, including surgical gowns, are available as reusable and disposable products. Health care facility administrators and leaders who aim to use environmentally sustainable practices require current data for decision making. The study analysed all activities from the extraction of fossil materials from the earth to the end‐of‐life disposal of reusable and disposable gowns. The researchers included calculations for laundry and wastewater treatment operations and compared the environmental effects of the two surgical gown systems. The results showed that use of reusable gowns rather than disposable gowns reduced natural resource energy consumption (64%), greenhouse gas emissions (66%), blue water consumption (83%), and solid waste generation (84%). This information can be used by facility leaders as they make informed decisions related to gown system selection.

The life cycle assessment (LCA) research was initiated by the American Reusable Textile Association ( ARTA) and the International Association for Healthcare Textile Management (IAHTM).