“With the current gowns, patients often end up with their bottoms on display”
In the past month, a lot of us healthcare workers started to talk about the problem of open-backed gowns on Twitter, and a few of us, including myself, wrote blog posts about it. After all this talk we decided to act, and so I launched the online petition. I was amazed by the response.Most hospitals in France give patients open-backed cloth gowns that have snap buttons at the back. However, the buttons generally don’t go all the way down, so patients often end up walking around with their bottoms on display. This can be quite humiliating for them. Of course, patients who have brought a pyjama or a robe can put that on, but a lot of people arrive at the hospital without having had time to pack a suitcase.“These one-size-fits-all gowns are given to patients who don’t necessarily need them”A report by the French National Authority for Health, a public watchdog organisation, shows that these one-size-fits-all gowns are given to patients who don’t necessarily need them. For example, one person interviewed explained that he went to the hospital because his teeth ached terribly, and was made to wear one of these gowns.Of course, some people argue that gowns are just a minor issue when there are so many other, bigger problems facing hospitals, like under-staffing. But it’s also a very easy issue to fix, and would go a long way toward making patients more comfortable. Some countries have found alternatives that work just as well: gowns with more buttons to offer full coverage, or even better, gowns that tie on the side.
“For some patients, open-back gowns can be life-saving”
During my ten years at the hospital, I never heard a single complaint about these open-backed gowns. They’re necessary for many patients. In many services, like in surgery or in the emergency room, these gowns are simply indispensable. Even having to untie a sash or tear off a Velcro strap could make the personnel lose precious seconds, which can make all the difference when you’re trying to save somebody’s life.I also think these open-backed gowns are great for patients who are bedridden. In many cases, such patients must be moved as little as possible, since moving them can tire them out or hurt them if they have a fracture. So having to remove clothing from their back not only takes more time for the personnel that washes them, but can also negatively affect the patient.That said, there are certainly some patients who could benefit from different types of gowns, if they’re mobile and don’t need to be washed.