There is a variety of protective attire to cover every part of the body. Medical professionals and others choose which type of clothing they wear based on the requirements of their job, the safety hazards they may encounter, and the required standard safety regulations. Basic types of protective garb include:

  • Surgical caps: This headgear is worn by all staff and patients in an operating room and other surgical or dental suites to avoid contaminating the room or surgical wound with microorganisms. Surgical caps also contain the hair, similar to the need for restaurant workers to wear a hairnet or cap. They are made from light synthetic material or reusable, washable cotton.
  • Safety goggles and face shields: Plastic safety goggles that cover the eyes and eye area are the primary¬†eye protection from sudden backsplashes and sprays of blood, other body fluids, chemicals, and other materials. Face shields that go from brow to chin can be worn over the goggles for added protection. Special-purpose safety goggles are used for providers and patients during laser surgical or cosmetic procedures. Goggles and face shields protect the eyes and face from infection or chemical or physical injuries.
  • Masks: These are worn over the nose and mouth to prevent spreading germs to the patient from the nose and mouth in a sterile environment. Masks also protect the wearer from particulate matter or contagious organisms in the room air. They are sometimes given to patients to reduce their exposure to germs from medical workers or visitors. Masks are held snuggly on the face by fabric ties or elastic bands.
  • Gloves: Medical personnel wears sterile, disposable gloves when they handle any sterile surgical equipment and supplies during surgery or other procedures. This avoids contaminating equipment and patients with bacteria or other harmful organisms. Gloves also protect workers from a patient’s body fluids during a procedure in the office or surgical suite, in the lab, or during blood drawing. Latex gloves are the most common type used, but persons with latex allergies can use other materials.
  • Scrubs: These are some of the most familiar medical garments. They are required in the operating room and other settings where exposure to contaminants is possible, and they reduce tracking harmful agents into a surgical suite. They are reusable and are practical for saving personnel’s own clothes from being soiled or contaminated. Scrubs are generally made of comfortable cotton and are easy to change or replace. They are widely available in a variety of solid colors and prints with matching pants and tops or dresses.
  • Surgical gowns: Surgeons and others at the operating table are required to wear these rear-closure gowns in the operating room. They are worn over scrubs and help maintain a sterile surgical field essential for protecting the patient from infection. Gowns are long-sleeved with elastic cuffs at the wrists and generally reach the calves, knees, or just below, depending on the user’s height. Modern gowns are made of synthetic material and are immediately discarded after a procedure.
  • Surgical sleeves: These are additional disposable shields for the lower arms that go from wrists to elbows. They are added during major surgery when extra protection from blood or other fluids is needed above the gloves. Surgical sleeves have elastic at both the wrists and top for a secure fit over the long sleeves of the surgical gown.
  • Coveralls or jumpsuits: These one-piece garments cover an individual from head-to-toe and include attached booties. They generally fasten in the front and may include a hood or attached mask. Coveralls are made of lightweight, disposable material and are worn by medical personnel when additional protection is needed.
  • Shoe covers: These water-proof booties cover a user’s footwear completely. Their purpose is to limit the tracking of microorganisms and other hazards from in and out of the operating suite or procedure room. Like other medical protective covering, shoe covers are made of lightweight material and are disposable.
  • Lab coats: This recognizable white coat is part of the uniform and traditions of doctors, other healthcare personnel, and scientists. Lab coats are somewhat protective of users’ clothing in the office but are not useful to maintain a sterile environment. They do have convenient pockets, which are handy for carting around small supplies. These reusable, durable coats are either made of cotton or a cotton/polyester mix.