Thursday , February 22 2024

A Guide to Lab Coats: Essential Protective Garments for All Medical Professionals

If you’re a medical professional, you probably face hectic high-pressure situations almost every day. Burnout affects people in the healthcare sector more than it does those in other industries. In challenging times, different types of medical equipment give you the support you need.

Take, for instance, lab coats as the essential pieces of medical gear that offer you style, comfort, and protection from dangerous bacteria. Keep reading to discover more about these garments, as well as how to pick the right type for your establishment’s needs.

The Importance of Wearing a Lab Coat

laboratory coat

Source: cbs7.com

These coats first emerged in the 19th century as a representation of scientific progress. They offered scientists some degree of protection, much like a beekeeper’s outfit or a blacksmith’s thick apron. They also served as an identifying mark to separate genuine scientists from quacks and pseudoscientists.

Today’s sophisticated laboratory coat offers a lot of benefits for students, chemists, and medical professionals. It’s available in a variety of styles and colours, and you can even customise yours with embroidered text or a logo of your choice. Moreover, these coats are treated with a liquid-repellent finish that protects you from bacteria.

Here are seven reasons why this garment is indispensable for anyone who works in the healthcare sector:

  • Prevents accidental splashes, spills, and unexpected reactions from damaging your skin and everyday clothing;
  • Certain models are fire-retardant and heat-resistant, which makes them an efficient barrier against fire and heat;
  • Prevents spread of disease and contamination (just make sure you don’t wear it outside of work);
  • As long as your sleeves are the proper length or you’re wearing knit or elastic cuffs, you’ll prevent your sleeves from getting in the way of your job;
  • In case there’s a hazardous spill or your lab coat catches on fire, you can easily remove it (which isn’t the case with everyday clothes);
  • It helps you identify as a medical or science professional in front of people;
  • It helps you gain the trust of your patients or clients, as they feel more at ease and confident around a medical professional.

However, the fact that these protective garments are made of fabric means that you should only use them as a last resort. If you’re working in a risky position, consider using lab safety tools as well, such as gloves, goggles, and face shields.

What are the Different Types of Laboratory Coats?

There are so many different kinds available online, making it challenging to identify what you need. According to the level of protection it provides, a laboratory coat can be:

  • Splash-resistant/ water-resistant;
  • Chemical-resistant;
  • Heat-resistant;
  • Tear-resistant;
  • Fire-resistant.

However, there are also types that aren’t used for safety, such as the short white coat that medical practitioners occasionally wear for consultation. These serve more as means of identification and extra storage space than as barriers.

Then there are variations, like the side opening design, which is common in Australian clinical labs. This is a wrap-around, full-coverage polycotton coat that resembles a chef’s uniform. It’s perfect for laboratories dealing with biological and genetically engineered materials since the design reduces pathogen contact with skin and casual clothing.

What’s the Ideal Design?

laboratory coat

Source: classewig.com

When shopping for lab coats Australia wide, make sure that the model you choose is both useful and well-fitting. It should protect you well without obstructing your range of motion, have side pockets and a chest pocket that provide enough storage space, be cosy enough to wear all day long, and not fly open on accident.

The ideal design for you depends on the risks you confront and the extra PPE you’ll put on. Here’s a short summary of the design elements to consider when purchasing:

  • Sleeve length: The length of your sleeves should cover your wrist while your arms are stretched in front of you unless you’re wearing a model with short sleeves. However, they shouldn’t be so long that you have to roll them up to work;
  • Lab coat length: You should be able to sit and stand comfortably with it reaching at least the mid-thigh area (preferably, above the knees);
  • Cuffs: Tight, with nothing hanging loose that may unintentionally touch dangerous chemicals;
  • Closure system: Velcro or snap fasteners are the best choices for simple removal. However, Velcro breaks down over time;
  • Pockets: They should have plenty of storage space for your needs, both in terms of number and size;
  • Fabric: Offers the right level of protection for the hazards you could face.

What’s the Best Fabric for These Garments?

Typically, manufacturers combine two or more materials in an effort to balance price and level of protection. Depending on the risks you confront, your coat’s fabric specifications will change. The fabrics typically used are cotton, polyester, polycotton, or nylon.

While cotton isn’t usually flame-resistant (unless it goes through a certain treatment), it’s extremely soft, breathable, and durable. For this reason, the medical sector often uses cotton lab coats. Polyester is also weak against fire, but it offers great liquid resistance. Manufacturers often use polycotton (a mix of polyester and cotton), as it provides optimal comfort, durability, and splash resistance. Nylon is lightweight and sturdy, however, it isn’t as popular as cotton and polyester.

These garments have evolved significantly through time and are now the most important part of medical equipment. They serve as a symbol of deference and reliability, and they represent the medical industry as a whole. I hope you found these tips helpful in choosing white coats for your staff!