Should you always change plastic aprons between patients? What do you think?
Several studies show that healthcare workers clothing can become contaminated with potentially pathogenic microorganisms e.g. Staphylococcus aureus.
Aprons are also included as part of healthcare workers personal protective equipment regulations. (Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations, 1992).
Therefore, plastic aprons are part of universally accepted evidence based standards, guidance and regulations for infection prevention and control. They recommend that single use disposable aprons, or gowns, must be worn based on risk assessment when there is a risk that healthcare workers clothing may become exposed to blood, body fluids, secretions and excretions.
Such guidance also recommends that aprons must be changed and removed carefully between care provided for each patient to prevent transmission of microorganisms and when cleaning different areas e.g. bedrooms, bays, toilets, kitchens and clinical areas.
Many policies also advice different colour coded aprons to help ensure that they have been changed between patients and procedures e.g. different colours for patient care, isolation, food service, bathroom and kitchen areas. Some studies have indicated that plastic may acquire static electric charge which can attract airborne bacteria. Although there are various opinions regarding this it also helps support the need to change aprons between patients.
Julie Hughes is a Nurse Consultant Infection Control/Lecturer, 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust/University of Chester.