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Shortage of long sleeved hospital gowns

(24 Posts)
pipnchops Sat 18-Apr-20 07:55:46

Just watching an interview on BBC breakfast about this and I really want to know, are the hospital gowns that they're short of reusable or do they get thrown away after use? As they are running out I assume they are not reusable but isn't it possible, and better for the environment, to make and supply gowns that can be sanitised and used again?

OP’s posts: |
pipnchops Sat 18-Apr-20 08:22:07

Sorry if this is a stupid question and nobody is answering as it's so ridiculous, I just really wanted the journalists to ask but maybe they're not asking because it's a ridiculous notion confused

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JustVisiting9 Sat 18-Apr-20 08:33:53

They are disposable due to the risk of infection. Some hospitals are trying to sanitise them so that they can be re-used.

They are supposed to be waterproof. I am not sure if the cleaning process (heat and chemicals) would affect this. I imagine that even if they can be cleaned, the capacity for cleaning might not be there (I assume it's more complicated than sticking them in a washing machine), and even if they could be cleaned once, they probably wouldn't survive multiple cleans.

NB: Hancock proudly told us there were 55,000 gowns being delivered yesterday. The Guardian reports that the NHS is currently using 150,000 gowns each day.

JustVisiting9 Sat 18-Apr-20 08:37:16

Edited to add: Part of the problem seems to be the specialist material that's needed. The gowns aren't made out of normal fabric, which might be why Barbour, who manufacture outdoor/waterproof items normally, have been able to deliver at speed.

jemmmmm Sat 18-Apr-20 08:48:36

We are being advised by unions that if adequate PPE is not present then not to go into the patient. (Not by hospital bosses or govt who are hoping we will do it anyway without actually having to be told to, because if they told us to and we die it would probably be corporate manslaughter, they will always deny that they encouraged us to see patients without PPE for this reason, but obviously they hope we will so people don't die or suffer)

I really hope that they can sort this situation before it gets to that. What a spectacular mess and an impossible situation for health care professionals to be put it.

TheEmojiFormerlyKnownAsPrince Sat 18-Apr-20 08:51:45

I’m making scrubs. No matter how many we make, it’s never enough.

Had a request from someone l work with yesterday. Her friends daughter is on the pandemic wards and has one pair of scrubs she needs to wash after every shift.

It’s bloody disgraceful.

pipnchops Sat 18-Apr-20 08:54:24

Thank you so much for answering. Such a terrible situation. I wish there was some way that could be found to make reusable ones but like you say it would be a mammoth task to clean them all if that is how many are used per day shock

OP’s posts: |
Ciwirocks Sat 18-Apr-20 08:55:58

The gowns have to be taken off very carefully so that you don’t contaminate yourself when you take them off. They are worn in intensive care where aerosol generating procedures are occurring all the time which can make the virus airbourne, you have to assume the gown is covered in virus and so there is no way the next person could pick a used gown up and put it on without contaminating themselves and risking getting the virus. If they were washed at the temperatures needed to kill the virus they would disintegrate. This is a horrible situation and people should not be put in a position whereby you either risk your own health or that of the patient.

TheEmojiFormerlyKnownAsPrince Sat 18-Apr-20 09:09:56

If we could get hold of the fabric, me and my little team could make some😥

Rhayader Sat 18-Apr-20 09:20:48

They’re disposable unfortunately. The government had a small stockpile but not a large one because they expire so instead it made secure contracts with manufacturers for this eventuality. Unfortunately in most cases these secure contracts have been reneged on or the countries that they are in have placed restrictions on their exports. We don’t make any of this stuff in the UK so we are now reliant on making new international contracts (such as the one with turkey) or asking companies who don’t usually make this stuff but do similar things (like Burberry) to turn there hand to making gowns.

PHE are investigating whether you can clean gowns and reuse them but this will have to be a full lab investigation to see how much the cleaning process damages the effectiveness of the gown.

RoryGilmoree Sat 18-Apr-20 09:25:30

They're disposable and they're a weird thin texture that tear easily so definitely can't be washed.

There are some fabric ones that can be rewatched that our icu are using.

But yeah, it's a mess. This only affects icu since those treating covid patients on general wards aren't entitled to a gown or proper mask anyway...which is a scandal in itself (except for AGPs)

milveycrohn Sat 18-Apr-20 09:31:43

I asked this question on a different post.
Apparently they are disposable (possibly coated with something) so get thrown away after each patient.
Even if you only deal with one patient, I think they can only wear this stuff for a maximum of a few hours, so then it has to be thrown away. If you deal with several patients, then it has to be changed between each one.

BramblyHedge Sat 18-Apr-20 09:37:19

Our NHS trust has written to all schools to ask if they can donate coveralls/science coats. Our primary school forwarded it to parents.

RandomlyChosenName Sat 18-Apr-20 09:39:05

@Rhayader. Thank you for that clear explanation. I was assuming it was something like that- it makes perfect sense.

It’s awful that we’ve now reached the stage that the staff have to either put their lives in danger or not treat the patients. What a horrible dilemma.

gogglegoggle Sat 18-Apr-20 09:43:58

To correct someone above- it does not only affect ITU- it also massively affects A&E staff as several of our areas require full PPE.

NotEverythingIsBlackandwhite Sat 18-Apr-20 09:46:12

A couple of thoughts:

I don't think any Govt would have been able to get enough supplies of these given the demand from all over the world.

There must be some way of sanitising the gowns so they can be re-used.

Is it stupid to ask if the gowns could be taken off and hung in chambers where they could be sprayed with a de-contaminant? Or where staff walk through, wearing them and a full face visor, periodically throughout the day and are de-contaminated.

Nquartz Sat 18-Apr-20 09:46:44

I've seen posts on Facebook requesting overalls for our local hospital.

There are companies & schools making masks & visors, hopefully others help with this latest shortage.

Buddahstack Sat 18-Apr-20 09:47:54

Our trust is looking into steam cleaning them. We are horribly low on stock and there are covid patients all over the hospital. It isn’t just ITU and A&E. You can have a stable patient on a normal covid ward who goes into peri arrest and then suddenly all staff need full PPE.

Buddahstack Sat 18-Apr-20 09:48:54

@Nquartz, a local school made us a thousand visors. We couldn’t use them as not up to code and they are just sat in boxes not being used

Baaaahhhhh Sat 18-Apr-20 10:02:16

As buddahstack states, albeit with a different item, with all the best intentions these items can't just be run up in your lounge. Barbour are having to wait for approval, as they could, theoretically, be sued for non- functioning gowns. Quite a few recent deliveries of gowns from China have been discarded as not up the standard. These gowns have to be water resistant and sealed on the seams, so need specialist methods to produce.

Japan is in such a state they have requested donations of raincoats from their population.

NiceViper Sat 18-Apr-20 10:18:41

It sounds as if duct taping staff into bin bags would be safer than a sub-standard gown!

At this rate we'll be hearing of naked medics (wearing only mask and school-DT-produced visor) on the grounds that it's safer to shower off skin then to wear the wrong stuff

Which is great for passing frivolous thoughts of hot TV doctors. But grim in RL

WiseUpJanetWeiss Sat 18-Apr-20 10:31:32

Is it stupid to ask if the gowns could be taken off and hung in chambers where they could be sprayed with a de-contaminant? Or where staff walk through, wearing them and a full face visor, periodically throughout the day and are de-contaminated

Not entirely. The sheep dip thing won’t work - the PPE is not suitable to protect against chemicals and we can’t ask staff to add another risk to their day.

The alternative decontamination method is not stupid, but incredibly difficult. Tyvek (weird plasticky papery) gowns can be irradiated, but the safe processing required to pack contaminated garments without the packer becoming contaminated would be difficult and expensive.

Something actually launderable is needed. Pharmaceutical manufacturers wear fabric coveralls that are made out of a very fine-pored lightweight launderable fabric that would probably be ideal, however I imagine the fabric is in very short supply.

Laundry capacity would be an issue, but the laundry companies that are not processing hotel laundry would perhaps be able to help.

nether Sat 18-Apr-20 11:43:55

I've just seen a poll on Twitter (yes, yes I know)

Of the following options to patch the difficulty, the poll currently shows a clear leader:

- new unapproved gown (65%)
- reused approved gown (17%)
- new bin bag (9%)
- new plastic apron (8%)

( Rumpelstilskin arranging production and distribution of enough approved gowns in time, was notnan available option on the poll)

Redpurplegreen Sat 18-Apr-20 12:03:06

I work in a hospital lab and we use the gowns occasionally over our lab coats when we are working with high risk pathogens, we’ve now been told we have to reuse the same gown for a day when normally we would discard it every time you step away from the work.

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