What is the difference between level 3 and 2 AAMI reusable isolation gowns?
Isolation gowns are a very crucial part of the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) of
frontline workers, especially those in the medical field. They protect most of the body
against the splatter of fluids and particulates. Picking the right gown for the right
situation is crucial for healthcare workers as they are constantly exposed to these fluids
and particles that can carry infectious diseases. Level 2 and 3 reusable AAMI isolation
gowns that have been manufactures according to the guidelines of the American
National Standards Institute/Association of Advancement of Medical Instrumentation
(ANSI/AAMI) are recognized by both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and
Health Canada for their high performance and quality. Gowns that meet the standards
set by AAMI are rated Level 1, 2, 3 or 4 depending on the amount of protection they
provide. So what exactly is the difference between level 2 and 3 reusable AAMI isolation
AAMI Level 2 reusable isolation gowns provide some resistance to the spray and
splatter of fluids. Following AAMI standards, they are tested on their ability to resist the
impact of water and their resistance against pressurized water. They can block fluids
significantly better than level 1 gowns and are used by healthcare workers in situations
where risk of exposure to fluids splatter is low, like when drawing blood or working in a
pathology lab. They are typically not suitable for use in sterile environments.
AAMI level 3 reusable isolation gowns provide moderate resistance to fluid splatter and
spray. The tests done on level 3 gowns are similar to those done on level 2 gowns and
the results show that level 3 gowns provide higher resistance against water impact and
pressurized water than level 2 isolation gown. Therefore they are more suitable in situations
where exposure to fluids is higher, like when drawing arterial blood, doing IV insertions
and working in trauma. They can be used in sterile environments, though level 4 gowns
are the more likely to be used.
Overall, the main differences between the level 2 isolation gown and 3 AAMI rated reusable isolation
gowns stem from their ability to resist fluids and protect against fluid-borne pathogens.
For situations in which the risk of contamination is low level 2 gowns are acceptable but
for situations where the risk is high level 3 gowns are preferred. Penguin Health offers
both level 2 and level 3 AAMI rated washable isolation gowns that have been
manufactures in Ontario and meet Heath Canada standards. As they are both reusable,
the materials used to manufacture these gowns are similar with small differences to
account for their difference in barrier protection levels. Both gowns have also been
shown to offer effective protection against respiratory droplets that can viruses, making
them essential during this pandemic. In general, the best way for healthcare workers to
decide which gown to choose is to asses the risk of exposure in each situation they
encounter and make an informed decision based on this information.