Giving Care: Senior & Disabled Caregiver Resource Blog

How to Put on a Hospital Gown

Portrait of smiling senior patient sitting on bed in hospital
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By wavebreakmedia /

Hospital gowns are a simple garment, yet oh-so-tricky to put on (and take off). This is a wardrobe staple of hospital clothes for patients, yet few have mastered the art of donning a hospital gown. Here are our four top tips for putting on a hospital gown without getting into a snarl of fabric:

Know what type of gown you are wearing.

There are two main types of hospital gowns: a straight up-and-down style and a wrap style. If you have the straight up-and-down style gown, it will have two panels that meet in the middle on one side. Most patients put this side in the back because having it in the front makes them feel more exposed, but in some cases, the doctor will have you put it on with the gap in the front for easier access. There is also a wrap style hospital gown that features two fabric panels that overlap at an angle. This style offers more coverage for patients but can reduce access for medical practitioners and hamper quick action. Each style of hospital gown requires slightly different directions for donning it, which is why it’s important to know which type of gown you will be wearing.

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Take off the least amount of clothes necessary.

Before you can put on a hospital gown, you need to take off your clothes. In many cases, you will be able to leave on your bra and/or underwear, unless otherwise noted by the doctor. If the doctor is only examining your top or bottom half, you might be able to leave on your shirt or pants and then simply drape the hospital gown over the rest of your body. Follow the staff’s instructions for how much to disrobe before putting on the hospital gown. Place your clothing where they direct you to so you can easily find them later when it’s time to take off the hospital gown.

Attractive young woman patient thinking and dream about life on hospital bed.Copy space.
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By Suthiporn Hanchana /

Put on the hospital gown.

Now, it’s time to actually put on the hospital gown. If you are wearing a straight up-and-down gown, then grab it and turn it so it completely covers your front (unless your doctor has instructed you to wear it otherwise). Slip your arms into the sleeves and pull the gown up to your neck. If you have upper body mobility, tie the neck strings behind your head. If your arms aren’t mobile enough, then you can tie it in front of your chest and then slip the strings over your head. You may wish to tie the waist strings behind you if you are going to be walking around. Some people prefer to leave the waist strings untied if they will be lying down because, otherwise, the knot can dig into their lower back.

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Tie the wrap gown.

Wrap gowns are a bit different because they don’t have a neck tie but they do have two waist ties. Slip into the hospital gown with the gaps facing the front. Locate the inside waist tie, which will be on the inside of either your left or right. Take the tie on the edge of the opposite side of the garment and attach to the inner waist tie. Locate the outer waist tie on the other side of the garment and repeat the process with the other side that is still hanging free. If the wrap gown only has one long inner tie, then bring it around and tie it to the string on the opposite side. Adjust the overlapping panels of fabric so that they hang comfortably.

Ill patient lying on bed in hospital
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By wavebreakmedia /

Take the gown off.

Once you are finished with your medical examinations or treatments, it’s time to remove your hospital gown. Some gowns are made with quick release snaps on the shoulders so that you do not have to fuss with the ties. Simply rip open the snaps and step out of the gown. With other gowns, you will have to reach back and undo the ties, which can be a bit tricky. This is why it’s so important to always tie the gowns in loose bows and to avoid double knotting so that you will be able to get it when you are done. Place the gown in the dirty laundry receptacle (staff will usually tell you where to place the gown when you are ready to change). After taking off the hospital gown, put your regular clothes back on.

Hospital gowns aren’t the only easy-access garments that your loved ones can wear either in a facility or at home. Shop our collection of adaptive clothing to find wardrobe solutions for every level of mobility and different medical needs.

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