One debate that never seems to go away in the medical community is whether supplies should be disposable or reusable, especially when it comes to saving money. Even surgical gowns have entered the debate, with some medical professionals believing all staff members should wear disposable gowns and others contending that reusable gowns are the better choice. While it might seem that reusable gowns will save an organization money since they won’t have to buy supplies as frequently, you might be surprised to learn that disposable gowns might be the more cost-effective choice.
The main reason why disposable surgical gowns are often chosen over reusable gowns is because anything that is reused over time eventually breaks down. In the case of surgical gowns, breaking down and wearing out means less protection against dangerous medical materials like blood-borne illnesses, infectious diseases, and other potentially deadly fluids. Hospitals and medical offices can be sued if they don’t provide the proper protection to their employees, and this can extend to reusable hospital gowns that have lost their initial protection level.
Disposable surgical gowns offer the same level of protection with each new garment. Since employees toss their used gown into the trash or hazardous materials bin after a single use, medical organizations know they’re properly protected each time they put a new gown on. Using disposable gowns could save hospitals and medical offices millions of dollars in lawsuits that may result from a decreased level of protection after months or years of use of a reusable gown.
Washing and Sterilizing
Reusable surgical gowns must be washed and sterilized after every single use. Medical organizations can’t assume their employees will wash and sterilize their own garments or that they will do it properly, so they must do it for them. This requires staff and equipment, both of which bear a significant cost. Not to mention there are ongoing water, soap, and sanitizer costs as well. If you add these charges up over time, they can negate any savings you get from not having to buy disposable gowns as frequently.
On the other hand, disposable surgical gowns do not have to be washed or sterilized. They are disposed of immediately after a single use, so there is no need for additional laundry staff, equipment, or ongoing expenses related to water, soap, and sanitizers. In fact, you’re probably already paying for staff to properly dispose of medical waste, so you won’t incur further expenses for staff at all.
One reason why surgical staff members may prefer reusable gowns over disposable gowns is comfort. You definitely want your employees to be comfortable, which may be why some hospitals opt for reusable gowns despite the drawbacks. But, technology has advanced to the point where disposable gowns are almost as comfortable as reusable ones, especially if you purchase them from a high-quality vendor.
Even though the pricing of disposable gowns versus reusable gowns may indicate that the reusable option may be more cost effective over time, by looking at all the costs involved with taking care of reusable gowns and the potential for decreased protection, you can see that disposable gowns are ultimately going to give you the most benefits at the lowest cost.