Giving Care: Senior & Disabled Caregiver Resource Blog

The 8 Types of Hospital Gowns

Side view of mature scrub nurse assisting surgeon putting on sterile operating gown
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By Tyler Olson /

While all hospital gowns may follow the same basic shape, they are not created equal — and, in fact, certain types of hospital gowns have very different purposes. Some are meant to be worn by doctors and nurses, while others are designed to be worn by patients. Read on to discover what you need to know about the different types of hospital gowns.

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Medical Gowns

These gowns are worn by doctors, nurses, surgeons and other medical personnel to protect the wearer from fluids, germs and bacteria. These gowns may be referred to by many names, including surgical gowns, isolation gowns, surgical isolation gowns, non-surgical gowns, procedural gowns and operating room gowns. The different styles of gowns offer different levels of protection for low to high risk situations, which is why it’s appropriate to always choose the right gown. The main types of medical gowns are:

  • Non-surgical gowns: These multipurpose gowns are worn when there is a low to moderate risk of contamination, but medical personnel still need more protection than just their scrubs. They are not worn during surgical procedures or when there is a higher risk of contamination. They are made of multi-ply material that is usually coated or treated to provide fluid resistance.
  • Coveralls: These are worn when a high level of protection is needed (for instance, when working with blood that could transmit hepatitis or HIV). These gowns are made of plastic or another kind of waterproof fabric that repels fluid. As the name suggests, these garments are worn over scrubs or other gowns for added protection.
  • Surgical and surgical isolation gowns: These gowns are designed for surgery, as the name implies. Surgical gowns are used during controlled procedures when the risk of contamination and splashes is a bit lower. Protection is concentrated mostly on the cuffs up to the elbows and the front from the chest downwards. Surgical isolation gowns provide more protection for the upper chest and arms as well as the rest of the body. They are used during surgical procedures with a higher risk of contamination.

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Nurse and a patient standing in hospital ward
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By ESB Professional /

Patient Gowns

Patients also wear gowns for various medical procedures, whether it’s a routine exam or an experimental surgery. These gowns are not designed for protection, but rather so that medical personnel can easily access the patient for exams or surgery. Pretty much everyone has had to wear a medical gown at some point or another, as it’s a staple of hospital clothes for patients — but do you know all the different types of hospital gowns? Here are the ones that you need to know:

  • Disposable: These gowns are usually made of paper and are designed to be used once and thrown away. While they are cheaper to purchase than fabric gowns, the cost may add up over time as disposable gowns cannot be reused, so they must be purchased more often.
  • Fabric: These gowns are usually made from cotton, polyester or a blend of both. They can be rewashed and reused, cutting down on waste. They are also thicker than disposable gowns, which provides more coverage and makes them more comfortable.
  • Classic patient gown: This is the classic hospital gown and the one you are most likely to have worn before. The front panel provides full coverage while the back is cut down the middle so the gown can easily be put on and taken off. These gowns are usually made with neck and waist ties in the back, though there are a few versions that use snaps instead of ties as well.
  • Wrap style: This less popular style of gown provides more coverage but can make it harder for clinicians to access patients. For this type of gown, the ties are located in the front and the two front panels overlap to provide more coverage for patients.
  • IV gowns: These gowns have slits up the shoulders to provide easy access to an IV line. The slit may simply be left hanging open or it may be lined with snaps so that the sleeves can be opened and closed as needed.

Young female surgeon in a mask and gown putting on disposable surgical gloves before going in to theatre isolated on white
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By Chatmali /

If you’re staying in the hospital long-term, they might give you the option to wear other garments, such as adaptive clothing, that also provide easy access but that are more comfortable than a standard issue hospital gown. Shop Silverts’ adaptive clothing today and get free shipping on U.S. orders over $20!


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