Title:
PROTECTIVE CLOTHING
United States Patent 3625206


Abstract:
Protective clothing for protecting an environment from contamination by a wearer comprising: an air-impermeable sleeved gown formed with an integral hood having a front opening therein in combination with a face mask in the front opening enabling a wearer to see out of the hood, connections for a suction line to the face mask for drawing air from the region of the wearer's face and cooling the wearer by causing an upward current of air over the body surface and extracting dust particles and bacteria emanating from the wearer's body.



Inventors:
CHARNLEY JOHN
Application Number:
04/873247
Publication Date:
12/07/1971
Filing Date:
11/03/1969
Assignee:
JOHN CHARNLEY
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
2/48, 2/457, 2/458, 128/847, 128/873
International Classes:
A41D13/11; A41D13/12; (IPC1-7): A61B19/00
Field of Search:
128/139,142
View Patent Images:
US Patent References:
3529594CLOTHING TO PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT FROM CONTAMINATION1970-09-22Charnley
3315672Surgical mask1967-04-25Cunningham
3058463Surgical mask1962-10-16Goodrich
2729820Safety headgear1956-01-10Anderson
2144611Protective gear1939-01-24Biggs
1560997Medical and surgical apron1925-11-10Kelly



Primary Examiner:
Gaudet, Richard A.
Assistant Examiner:
Dunne G. F.
Parent Case Data:


CROSS-REFERENCES TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This is a continuation-in-part of my copending application, Ser. No. 746,426, filed July 22, 1968 now U.S. Pat. No. 3,529,594.
Claims:
I claim

1. Protective clothing for protecting an environment from contamination by a wearer comprising: an air-impermeable sleeved gown and integral hood having a front opening, a face mask in the front opening of the hood, a section line associated with the face mask for drawing air from the face region of the wearer and cooling the wearer by causing an upward current of air over his body surface and extracting dust particles and bacteria emanating from his body, a respective tab attached to the inside of each gown sleeve and a further tab attached to the inside of the gown body.

2. Protective clothing as claimed in claim 1 wherein the further tab is attached to the gown body approximately halfway along the length of the gown body.

3. Protective clothing as claimed in claim 1 wherein the tabs are brightly colored for distinguishment from the material of the gown.

4. Protective clothing as claimed in claim 1 wherein the face mask comprises an arcuate supporting strip adapted to extend over the vertex of the wearer's head and being of a malleable metal adapted to be shaped to the contour of the wearer's head for supporting the gown with respect to the wearer.

5. Protective clothing as claimed in claim 4 wherein the supporting strip is provided with a foam plastics padding on the inside surface thereof.

Description:
This invention concerns protective clothing for protecting an environment from contamination by a wearer, and suitable for use in preventing the emanation into the surrounding atmosphere of dust or epithelial scales from the underclothing and body of a wearer of the clothing when such wearer is required to enter and work in a sterile or dust-free environment such as, for example, a surgical operating theater, a microbiological laboratory or factory, a food-processing factory or the like.

Many types of protective clothing are in existence which deliver compressed air to the wearer and these are used to protect the wearer from the environment; the present invention is quite different in principle, being designed to protect the environment from the wearer, and vacuum is used to draw the atmosphere of the environment into the protective clothing.

It has been only recently recognized that the main source of air-borne bacteria in surgical operating theaters emanates as much from the surface of the human body, in the form of epithelial scales carrying bacteria, as from the more generally recognized source of the nose and mouth. Air entering a surgical operating theater from a modern ventilating plant is almost sterile whereas the ambient air may contain approximately 5.0 colonies per cubic foot as a result of contamination from personnel in the operating theater. The same contamination is applicable to industrial processes where workers have to share the same air as the product being manufactured.

One method of reducing the bacterial content of the air in such an environment is to increase the flow of filtered air through the theater, chamber or factory, but it has been shown that to approach very sterile conditions by this means alone (i.e. to counteract the rate of emanation of contaminated particles from the operative or workers) would require at least 200 air changes of the whole theater, chamber or factory per hour. This would be prohibitively expensive in electric power, maintenance of filters and the cost of the ventilation plant, and in the end this ventilation system would still not achieve complete sterility of the air in the ventilated working space.

The only way to achieve a very high degree of air cleanliness, without entailing enormous costs, is by combining reduced number of air changes per hour in the working space with clothing provided with means for extracting the bacteria or dust-laden air emanating from the body or underclothing of the operatives or workers.

Prior to the present invention there have been ideas for surgical operating rooms for airtight clothing developed on the lines of space-suits which totally enclose the wearer. However, the disadvantages of such space-suit-type clothing are very numerous. For example, the clothing is expensive and for personal reasons each operative would need his own clothing or suit. The clothing is clumsy and takes time and assistance to put on and take off. After being used only a few times the clothing becomes a potential source of infection. It is impossible to provide a sterilized suit of this type for every occasion, and in a surgical operating theater each operative in the surgical team might need up to six suits per day. The suit could be covered with a sterile gown but no advantage is gained by this since the contaminated suit underneath would be no cleaner than the ordinary outside clothes of the wearer.

Ideally this type of space-suit clothing would have to be designed to work with the interior below atmospheric pressure so that in the event of a puncture occurring in the clothing air would be drawn into the clothing from the surrounding atmosphere instead of releasing contaminated air from the interior of the clothing as would happen in the conventional pressurized system. Experience has shown that to maintain the air pressure inside the clothing below atmospheric pressure, and to obtain a flow of air over the body of the wearer without the clothing collapsing onto the wearer's body due to the reduced internal pressure, presents great practical difficulties. Porous "spacer" linings, to permit this flow of air have proved to be hot and inefficient.

Conventional operating room gowns permit the escape of hot air, carrying with it epithelial scales and bacteria from the body, through the back-opening by which such conventional gowns are put on, as well as through the textile itself. Also conventional operating room gowns permit the escape of contaminated particles directly through the textile of the gown, so that they can be present on the external surface. Permeable textiles are used for operating gowns because textile sufficiently thick, or made of material impermeable to air (such as paper or plastics) becomes intolerably hot for the wearer.

An object of the present invention is to provide protective clothing comprising a gown of material which is impermeable to air (and hence impermeable to contaminated dust particles), has no back opening, and is made tolerable for the wearer by a suction cooling system which also carries away contaminated air from the wearer's body.

With this object in view, the present invention provides protective clothing for protecting an environment from contamination by a wearer, comprising an air-impermeable sleeved gown formed with an integral hood having a front opening therein in combination with a face mask in the opening enabling a wearer to see out of the hood, connections being provided for a suction line to said mask to draw air from the region of the wearer's face, and cool the wearer by causing an upward current of air over the surface of his body, extracting at the same time dust particles and bacteria emanating from the wearer's body.

The invention will be described further, by way of example, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a mask of the protective clothing of the invention;

FIG. 2 is an enlarged cross section of the mask shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a cross section taken along the line III--III in FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is a view of a gown of the clothing of the invention, as it would appear laid out on a flat surface such as a table;

FIG. 5 is a view of the gown of FIG. 4 with its skirt folded back on itself;

FIG. 6 is a further view similar to FIGS. 4 and 5 but showing the gown in its "first folding position";

FIG. 7 is an enlarged perspective view of the gown shown in FIGS. 4, 5 and 6 in its "first folding position";

FIG. 8 is a fragmentary perspective view showing the hood of the gown, the rectangular opening, and the tapes to be tied behind the wearer's head; and

FIG. 9 is an enlarged side cross section showing the mask and the gown in position on a wearer.

The face mask, of plastic or light metal or rubber, comprises three components:

a. A body 20, curved to adapt loosely to the front of the wearer's face and head, and stepped to provide a projecting generally rectangular centerpiece 21 to fit into a rectangular aperture in the hood of the gown (as will later be described).

b. A detachable transparent plastic window 22 clipped to the front of the projecting rectangular centerpiece 21.

c. A curved component 24 attached to the inner surface of the lower part of the body of the mask, to provide an arcuate space into which air can be sucked, and to provide means of attaching the two flexible suction pipes at each side 27. The curved space, receiving the vacuum for the suction pipes, has a central aperture 25 situated below the wearer's nose, and an additional entry for air is provided by a narrow gap 26 (see FIG. 3) and between the bottom of the transparent window 22 and the curved component 24.

The suction pipes 28 at each side of the mask connect through a Y or T piece 29 behind the wearer's neck and thereafter by a single vacuum hose 30, to a suction manifold suitably disposed in the ceiling, floor, or walls of the working space.

The mask has an arcuate malleable metal supporting strip 31 which is shaped to seat on the vertex of the wearer's head, such strip having a foam plastics padding layer 32 adhered to the inside surface thereof. The strip 31 can be bent to fit a particular wearer's head.

The face mask is provided with a pin or projection 33 situated in the centerline above the projecting step carrying the transparent window 22. This pin or projection 33 is for locating with an eyelet 34 situated above the rectangular aperture in the hood of the gown.

FIG. 9 shows the face mask and upper part of the gown in position on the head of the wearer (shown in dotted outline). Fabric tapes 35 are tied together at the back of the wearer's head to locate the aperture of the gown on the face piece and also to compress the rear of the curved head-band 31 against the wearer's head thereby firmly locating the mask on the wearer's head.

An important feature of the design of the gown shown is that the weight of the gown is carried on the vertex of the wearer's head, because the shoulders and neck of the wearer do not take any part in supporting the gown. In this way, the weight of the gown helps to press the supporting strip 31 down onto the head and thus stabilizes the mask relative to the head. Triangular spaces inside the hood of the gown are left at each side of the wearer's head into which hot air rising from the body can accumulate prior to being sucked away by the mask.

It is an important feature of the design of the face mask that the transparent window 22 is detachable and disposable. To facilitate replacement of the windows a number of different simple methods of fixing are available such as four projections or clips which may be provided on the edges of the rectangular front aperture in the masks. It would thus be possible for the transparent window 22 to be changed by an assistant if visibility became impaired, by for example, blood splashing onto the front of the window during the course of a surgical operation. By virtue of the window being readily detachable and disposable it should always be possible to start each operation or procedure with a new window instead of having to use old windows which might become scratched otherwise impaired during to cleaning.

Leakage of air around the edges of the transparent window is an advantage because it provides cool fresh air near the wearer's face for the purpose of refreshment. If additional fresh air is required, ventilating apertures 23 can be made in the window 22 of the mask.

It is not necessary for the front of the face masks to be completely closed by the detachable windows; windows may be adapted to extend over, for example, the lower half or lower two thirds of the rectangular front aperture of the masks. The size of the resultant aperture left open at the front of the mask will be related to the volume of air sucked out through the suction pipes, to ensure a persistant inflow through the aperture. Thus it will be appreciated that if a high enough section rate is used, the front of the mask may be left completely open. By using the mask with a completely or partially open face mask, the working conditions of the wearer can be rendered rather more pleasant than in the mask with the closed front, and conversation with adjacent workers is facilitated. If the face mask is left widely open by omitting the window, as for instance in a bacteriological or pharmaceutical laboratory, it may be found advantageous to clip the lower end of the gown close to the wearer's legs to constrict the entry of air below, and increase the entry from the face mask above.

Spectacles may be worn because the mask does not fit the face with a hermetic seal and the air current caused by the suction lines prevents spectacles becoming steamed up with condensation.

Instead of the mask being adapted to be supported on the wearer's head by the curved malleable metal band in contact with the wearer's head, it is possible for the mask to be adapted to be held against the wearer's face in the manner of goggles or an underwater swimming mask. The face masks may be adapted to surround the wearer's eyes alone in the manner of an underwater swimming mask.

Instead of the headband 31, a harness (not shown) comprising a number of laced together strips adapted to extend over the upper half of the wearer's head, could be used to support the face mask.

THE GOWN

FIGS. 4 to 7 show one form of gown of the clothing of the invention. The gown comprises a body part 40 formed integrally at its lower end with a skirt 41 and formed integrally at its upper end with a hood 42 having a front opening 43 for cooperation with the face mask. The rectangular aperture 43 in the hood has a rectangular fabric reinforcing strip 43a around its edge, with an eyelet 34 halfway along its upper edge to register with the pin or projection 33 of the face mask. Each side of the reinforcing strip 43a is provided with a strong fabric tape 35 (see FIG. 8).

The sleeves 44 are finished with elasticated cuffs 45 at the wrists.

The gown in made from a material impermeable to bacteria, dust or epithelial scales or the like, such as a close woven cotton fabric or even plastic or paper.

An important feature of the invention is the tabs or tapes 46 attached to the inside of each sleeve 44 (about halfway along the length on the back of the sleeve, being adjacent to the wearer's elbow when the gown is in use), and the tab 47 on the inside of the back of the gown situated about halfway along its length. These tabs or tapes 46,47 are brightly colored so as to be easily distinguishable from the fabric of the gown.

These tabs or tapes 46,47 are extremely important because they enable the wearer to don the gown in the cramped dimensions of a sterile operating room enclosure, and without touching the the sterile walls of such an enclosure, and with the minimum assistance.

The gown is sterilized in the usual manner after being folded into a "first folding position" (as shown in FIGS. 6 and 7) and then into secondary folds. The "first folding position" is attained as follows: The tab or tape 47 on the inside of the rear of the body part 40 is gripped to allow the bottom 41 or skirt of the gown to be folded back until the lower half of the body part 41 is turned inside out and surrounds the upper half (as shown in FIG. 5). Each sleeve 44 is then turned inside out by gripping its tab or tape 46 and pulling the sleeve until the half nearest its free end or cuff 45 surrounds the other half and the tab or tape 46 is visible (as shown in FIGS. 6 and 7). In this position, the fold in the main body part is substantially flush or level with the folds in each of the arms. The gown is now in the "first folding position". The gown can be folded further from the "first folding position" in any other way in order to reduce its size and make it convenient for packaging and sterilizing. The gown may be sterilized in its "first folding position" or any secondary position folded from the "first folding position".

When the gown is to be put on, the secondary foldings are undone to present the gown in its "first folding position" with the front opening 43 in the hood 42 facing downwards, and with the three brightly colored tabs or tapes 46 and 47 visible at the opening of the body part which leads into the interior. It will be realized that the outer surface of these folds is constituted by the inside or interior surface of the gown and the part which will later constitute the sterile external surface is on the inside surface of the folding.

To put on the gown in the sterile conditions of an operating theater one assistant (not shown) is required with sterile hands (or alternatively a sterile pair of forceps). The person by whom the gown is to be worn (not shown) stands facing the fold leading to the interior of the gown and inserts one hand into the aperture formed by the fold in one sleeve 44 holding the tab or tape 46 of this sleeve 44 in his other hand. By exerting countertraction on the tab he pushes his first hand up the folded sleeve until it penetrates the elasticated cuff 45. He now inserts his other hand into the other sleeve, but he can no longer offer countertraction himself on the tab and he now depends on the assistant to hold the tab to offer countertraction to allow him to push his hand through the associated elasticated cuff.

Having completed the insertion of the second hand, he is now ready to insert his head into the gown and for this purpose the assistant takes hold of the remaining tab or tape 47 on the rear inside of the body part 40 and lifts this up (so that the gown assumes the configuration somewhat similar to that shown in FIG. 7) to permit the person donning the gown to duck his head (with his face mask in position) under the gown and then stand upright for the gown to fall downwards, with some assistance from the assistant, and for the hood 42 to slide over the wearer's head. The wearer's bare hands (sterile) may then be used to adjust the front opening 43 in the hood 42 to the rectangular projection 21 of the face mask. The suction pipe 30 connected to the face mask (FIG. 1) has been previously attached to the appropriate suction manifolds.

It will thus be appreciated that the donning of this gown proceeds from conditions of lesser to greater sterility as the interior or inside surface of the gown in the "first folding position" eventually becomes the external sterile side when the gown is donned.

It will thus be appreciated that contaminated air rising from the surface of the wearer's body or underclothes will rise into the hood 42, because the hood is not constricted around its neck, and so be drawn out through the suction pipes 28, 30. Thus, the wearer's body, which otherwise would become too hot owing to the nonpermeability of the gown to air is cooled by the flow of air induced thereover.