In most of the professions, safety is considered an essential part of workplace and it is even considered more important than productivity in certain cases. Safety, for one, is definitely one of the most significant issues in medical profession. The patient and the doctor both need to be completely protected in order to keep infections at bay. The research and development department of textile sector has been rigorously involved in coming up with protective clothing for surgeons and patients to ensure safety of both the parties. The clothing used during surgical procedures must not hinder the work of the surgeons and offer utmost protection. Disposable operating theatre clothing has long been part of surgical procedures, but, many hospitals are increasingly demanding better form of reusable operating clothing these days.
Scrub suits, surgical gowns and drapes are part of operation theatre clothing. The modern day reusable surgical textile is made from extremely sophisticated barrier fabrics that aim to provide optimum level of comfort and protection in the operating theatres. The reusable surgical textile is designed bearing in mind the factor of performance. Though, the product's performance is affected with each use but the overall functioning of this category of operating clothing outmanoeuvres the disposable clothing. The superior performance of reusable clothing provides additional safety to patients and medical professionals.
The reusable clothing is designed to tackle any kind of complex challenges that arise during the surgery. The reusable gown, suits and drapes available in the market often exceed the user requirements. The reusable textile goes through tensile strength testing to ensure that each product is sturdy enough to survive several medical stresses during surgical procedures. In Europe, the operating theatre reusable fabric needs to be equal to or more that the standard EN 13795. This standard varies in different parts of the world. Nevertheless, the reusable surgical textile currently in use exceeds the set European standard, which makes it much stronger than the disposable clothing.
The lofty quality yardstick and the high-tech material used to make reusable clothing for surgeries makes it long lasting and a much safer option in comparison to disposables. In a recent life cycle assessment conducted for ETSA, it was indicated that among the five different types of surgical gowns, reusable textile is the most excellent in terms of performance and has least impact on environment in terms of energy consumption. Also, as per a cost benefit analysis done at the Centre for Hospital Management at the University of Muenster, it was revealed that as far as production, transport cost, waste disposal and usage is considered, reusable is at least 3.6 per cent less expensive than disposables.
Among the current types of reusable textile for surgical purposes, the surgical fabric with cent per cent virus and bacteria liquid barrier is popular. The textile has been widely accepted in Europe and the United States of America. This reusable textile has a life expectancy of hundred washings. This apart, reusable operating garments made from lint-free raw material are also commonly used. This reusable textile employs micro denier polyester filaments which are combined with other high performance textile filaments like silver and carbon. The material used in this reusable textile is also recyclable, giving it an edge over its contemporaries.
The trend of using disposable textiles for surgical purpose is changing, but as of now the transition is still slow. In the hospitals, preference is given to ease of handling the textile alongside safety measures. Disposable textile guarantees sterility at all times without any hassle of post operative maintenance. As a result of this, the proportion of disposable operating theatre clothing is still on rise. The hospitals are gradually realising that the resulting waste from disposable surgical textile amounts to about 3.2 kg of textiles per patient per day. Also, this waste has to be disposed of correctly, which results to an annual waste of about 1200 kg for every hospital bed. This realisation is eventually seeping in; hence, reusable operating textile can expect to rule the market in coming years.
There is also extensive research going on to improve the reusable surgical textile. The current research is centred on improving the reusable surgical clothing; the emphasis is being laid on making the clothing more comfortable to wear and also durable. The German Federation of Industrial Research Associations has sponsored a project, which will continue until the beginning of 2016. This project addresses the issues of ease of wearing the reusable surgical textile, performance and lifespan. The project is working on developing textile that can be cleaned in a gentler process, as this will increase the durability of the clothing. The strength of the textile will also ensure less waste and thus will be kind of the environment.
The management teams of various organisations including the hospitals are making safety their top-priority. Reusable textile for surgical procedures can change the face of medical world for better. The reusable textile reflects the commitment to safety of the workforce and the patients and this safety goes beyond this, as this textile is cost effective and hazard-free for the environment. The commitment of hospitals towards safety of workforce and environment is growing globally, and as this commitment becomes more consistent, it will start showing in the growth rate of reusable textile.