Most people, myself included, do not like to walk around naked. And underneath a hospital gown, you usually have nothing else on. Why do they make you do this?
One reason is safety. Underwear and other clothes can have metal in them which may heat up and cause a burn during surgery. Jewelry in any location can do this as well (including piercings that have metallic parts). Sometimes, your hands or feet may swell and rings can become too tight on fingers or toes.
Another reason for the gown is for the placement of vital signs monitors to keep you safe while you are asleep. You may have EKG stickers on your chest and other stickers or grounding pads on your hips or legs. We might use compression devices on your legs to help with your circulation and decrease the chance of forming dangerous blood clots.
In the rare case your surgery encounters some complications, your anesthesiologist may need quick access to your arms, chest, or neck for the placement of more invasive monitors or “lines” to keep you safe.
Some gowns come with a built in ability to keep you warm. They have a special liner inside of them and an interface that allows them to connect to a device that circulates warm air. This system is then utilized to keep you warm before, during, and after surgery. Hypothermia can adversely affect your perioperative experience and subsequent recovery. This is another tool to combat this problem.
Also, things can get messy in the hospital. While you might not like to think about it, fluids like blood or medicines may get on the gown.
Of course, there are other fluids that could land on the hospital gown as well (feel free to use your imagination here).
Patients often go through several gowns during their stay in the hospital because they get dirty. We don’t want you to ruin your clothes. It’s much easier to switch out and dispose of a hospital gown.
Sometimes patients ask if they can buy and bring their own hospital gown to wear. I have heard several moms talk about this with each other, so I asked one of our labor and delivery nurses what she thought.
She said that this particular hospital would allow it, but that it would be tough because the gown would get dirty so fast. And the mom would have to change it for a new one frequently. So if you want to bring your own hospital gown, just ask someone at the hospital what they think. If it is safe, you might be okay.
If you desire more modesty at any point, don’t hestitate to ask for a blanket to cover yourself up. And if you need to the walk to the bathroom before surgery, someone will go with you and help keep everything covered.
After all, each of us will likely be a patient at some point. I always try to remember this, but sometimes it’s not at the forefront of my mind. Please remind us promptly if we fail to do our best job of keeping your modesty intact!
Category: Day of surgery