In the U.S., more than 80 percent of surgical drapes used are disposable, single-use drapes, according to a study released this year by researchandMarkets. Dynamics between the disposable and reusable segments is a key factor affecting the growth in the disposable drapes and gowns market. While disposables are preferred today, there have been recent innovations to create reusable products with more effective barrier properties. While these products may have some limitations, they are a significant source of competition for the manufacturers of disposable products.
Increasing awareness of the need for better infection control has increased the preference for drapes and gowns providing improved bacterial barriers, or drapes and gowns with antimicrobial properties. Studies have shown that the microbial penetration resistance of single-use plastic drapes and gowns is superior to that of reusable cloth drapes and gowns.
Though disposable equipment seems less than economical, researchandMarkets reports that when total costs are considered, disposables tend to prove less expensive than reusables that involve overhead costs such as sterilization and laundering.
Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry Online cites the use of polyolefins as an increased trend in the disposable drapes market. Other drape materials include polystyrene, polycarbonate, acrylics, silicone, rubber, polyethylene, polypropylene and synthetic rubbers, according to the report. Most are coated with adhesive or lined with adhesive tape to facilitate placement.
According to the association of Surgical Technologists (AST), the primary purpose of draping the surgical patient is to reduce the risk of surgical site infection by isolating the surgical site from the other areas of the patient’s body, as well as from non-sterile areas of the or table. Drapes offer barrier protection primarily from endogenous sources of contamination, such as patients’ skin flora, which has been identified as a major source of surgical site infection. Draping expands the sterile field and establishes a neutral zone for passing sharps.
AST’s Standards of Practice recommend that drapes are free of holes, punctures and tears, and that draping material is impervious and fluid resistant, among other recommendations. AST also recommends that surgical team members be involved in the selection process of all drapes to be used in the or. It is recommended that the team refers to AAMI documents concerning surgical drapes when evaluating products and that team members evaluate a variety of manufacturers’ drapes and review each manufacturers’ documentation that they are meeting aNSI/AAMI barrier performance standards.