Sign up
Title:
SURGICAL GOWN AND METHOD OF FOLDING
United States Patent 3721999
Abstract:
A gown particularly adapted for use in surgical and medical procedures, folded in such a manner that only its interior surfaces are exposed to the surrounding environment, assuring sterility of its exterior surfaces. The hands and arms of the wearer may be placed inside the sleeve portions of the gown prior to unfolding to move the gown from place to place without danger of accidental unfolding and consequent loss of sterility. Also disclosed is a process of folding a surgical gown having a body portion and integral sleeve portions by folding the body portion longitudinally toward the center; drawing said sleeve portions partially inside-out forming arm openings at their outer end and placing them parallel and adjacent one another along an axis substantially perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the gown; folding the body portion upwardly from its bottom in a plurality of sections; folding the section of the body portion underlying the parallel sleeve portions downwardly over the previously folded sections while tucking the collar points of the neck of the body portion under this section; folding the arm openings of the sleeve portions toward the center of the gown; and, finally, folding the gown in half at its center so that the arm openings face in the same direction.


Inventors:
Goya, Tamotsu (Arlington Heights, IL)
Sill, James E. (Chicago, IL)
Application Number:
05/220259
Publication Date:
03/27/1973
Filing Date:
01/24/1972
Assignee:
Cenco Medical Health Supply Corporation (Chicago, IL)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
206/278, 206/438
International Classes:
A41D13/12; (IPC1-7): A41B9/00; A61B19/00
Field of Search:
2/114,DIG
View Patent Images:
US Patent References:
3570012N/AMarch 1971Winters
3359569Surgical gownDecember 1967Rotanz et al.
3259913Surgical gownJuly 1966Tames
3045815Surgeon's gown and glove assembly and method of sterilizing sameJuly 1962Abildgaard
Primary Examiner:
Schroeder, Werner H.
Claims:
We claim

1. A folded surgical gown having only its interior surfaces exposed while in a folded condition before use, said gown having a body portion and sleeve portions integral therewith, said body portion including a front panel and two back panels and a belting means attached thereto, said back panels having creased flaps folded inwardly along the edges of said back panels, said flaps being maintained in folded position by attachment through aseptic gown closure means to complementary flap closure means disposed near the top of said gown, each of said back panels being folded longitudinally inwardly toward the center of said gown upon themselves, said sleeve portions being drawn inwardly through themselves so that a length of said sleeve portions lies in inside-out fashion parallel and adjacent one another and substantially perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of said gown, the body portion of said gown being folded upwardly upon itself in a plurality of sections, the top edge of the last section so folded lying adjacent the armpits of said sleeve portions, the remaining section of said gown being folded downwardly upon said plurality of sections folded upwardly, the collar points of said body portion of said gown being tucked between said remaining section and said plurality of sections, said sleeve portions and said body portion underlying them being folded toward the center of the gown, and said gown being folded in half in such a manner that the openings for the arms of the gown wearer formed by said inwardly drawn sleeve portions face in the same direction, so that said gown may be grasped within said openings and moved from place to place without danger of inadvertently unfolding.

2. The folded gown of claim 1 wherein said aseptic closure means includes complementary snap means disposed near the top of each of said creased flaps of said back panels so that said back panels may be overlaid and attached to one another at their upper ends after said gown is unfolded, thereby effectively closing said gown and enclosing the body of the wearer.

3. The folded gown of claim 1 wherein said aseptic closure means includes Velcro strips disposed near the top of each of said creased flaps of said back panels so that said back panels may be overlaid and attached to one another at their upper ends after said gown is unfolded by pressing one Velcro strip to the other, thereby effectively closing said gown and enclosing the body of the wearer.

4. The folded gown of claim 1 wherein said belting means includes an overwrap containing a folded sterile belt, said overwrap and said belt being folded inside the gown in such a manner that they are not exposed to the surrounding environment, said belt being attached at one end to the material of said gown, said belt being extractible from said overwrap when said gown is unfolded and put on by the wearer by grasping said overwrap and moving it around the body of the gown wearer, thereby pulling and unfolding said belt from within said overwrap.

5. The folded gown of claim 1 wherein said gown has pressure-sensitive means disposed on the interior portion of at least one of said back panels, said pressure-sensitive means being effective to temporarily attach said back panel to the body of the wearer, thereby holding the gown in position to facilitate closing of aseptic closure means and belting of said gown.

6. The folded gown of claim 1, particularly adapted for use in obstetrical surgical procedures, minor surgery and medical examinations not requiring maximum sterility precautions, including a belting means having free hanging ties disposed in corresponding positions along each of said back panels, said ties being contained inside said gown in folded position so that they are not exposed to the surrounding environment, and hanging freely in position for tying to one another to bring the gown into fully closed position when said gown is unfolded.

7. In a surgical gown, including a body portion having a front panel and two back panels and sleeve portions and belting means attached to said body portion, a method of folding said gown to expose only its interior surfaces after folding and to permit movability before use without danger of unfolding, characterized by the steps of:

8. The method of folding a surgical gown set forth in claim 7 wherein said sleeve portions are drawn inwardly through themselves to lie in inside-out fashion prior to the folding longitudinally inwardly of said back panels upon themselves toward the center of the gown.

9. The method of folding a surgical gown set forth in claim 7 wherein said collar points disposed near the top of said body portion of said gown, defining the ends of the collar of said gown, are folded downwardly on top of said sleeve portions of said gown before said remaining section of said gown is folded downwardly upon the sections previously folded upwardly from the bottom of said gown.

10. The method of folding a surgical gown set forth in claim 7 wherein said aseptic gown closure means includes complementary snap means disposed near the top of each of said creased flaps of said back panels so that said back panels may be overlaid and attached to one another at their upper ends after said gown is unfolded, thereby effectively closing said gown and enclosing the body of the wearer.

11. The method of folding a surgical gown set forth in claim 7 wherein said aseptic gown closure means includes Velcro strips disposed near the top of each of said creased flaps of said back panels so that said back panels may be overlaid and attached to one another at their upper ends after the gown is unfolded by pressing one Velcro strip to the other, thereby effectively closing said gown and enclosing the body of the wearer.

12. The method of folding a surgical gown as set forth in claim 7 wherein said belting means includes an overwrap containing a folded sterile belt, said overwrap and said belt being folded inside the gown in such a manner that they are not exposed to the surrounding environment, said belt being attached at one end to the material of said gown, said belt being extractible from said overwrap when said gown is unfolded and put on by the wearer by grasping said overwrap and moving it around the body of the gown wearer, thereby pulling an unfolding said belt from within said overwrap.

13. The method of folding a surgical gown as set forth in claim 7 wherein said gown has pressure-sensitive means disposed on the interior portion of at least one of said back panels, said pressure-sensitive means being effective to temporarily attach said back panel to the body of the wearer, thereby holding the gown in position to facilitate closing of aseptic closure means and belting of said gown.

14. The method of folding a surgical gown as set forth in claim 7, said gown being particularly adapted for use in obstetrical surgical procedures, minor surgery and medical examinations not requiring maximum sterility precautions, including a belting means having free hanging ties disposed in corresponding positions along each of said back panels, said ties being folded inside said gown so that they are not exposed to the surrounding environment, and hanging freely in position for tying to one another to bring the gown into fully closed position when said gown in unfolded.

Description:
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to gowns particularly adapted for use in surgical and medical procedures requiring sterility and to a method of folding such gowns to insure sterility and accessibility.

The gowns worn by medical personnel in medical and surgical procedures have traditionally performed two important roles. First, they have prevented the clothes of the wearer from becoming saturated with blood or other fluids during these procedures. More importantly, however, these gowns have also served to protect the patient, the instruments involved in the procedure, the other personnel and, generally, the entire operating area from contamination by microorganisms unavoidably present on the clothes of the wearer.

Beyond the traditional consideration of maintaining sterility, however, a definite need has arisen, because of the advances of technology and the increasing sophistication of the operating procedures themselves to provide a surgical gown that will not only insure sterility but will also maintain its sterility while being moved from one place to another within the operating area, and may be donned with the efficiency and speed necessary in modern procedures.

In the past, surgical gowns closing at either the front or the back have been folded by hospital personnel with an attempt to expose only the interior surface of the gown which will come in contact with the wearer's clothing, thus retaining the sterility of the exterior surfaces prior to use. However, gowns folded in this manner afford no easy means of unfolding and vesting without contaminating the desired sterile surface. Such haphazard folding methods provide no quick or apparent hand holds for the nonsterile circulating nurse to grasp and open the gown for the surgeon and provide no means for controlling the unfolding or falling out of the gown. It often happens that during gowning, a portion of the desired sterile surface will fall below waist or table level or will come in contact with the clothing of the nonsterile nurse and be contaminated. In addition, these back and front closing gowns had no means of insuring proper closure which could be manipulated by the surgeon or the nonsterile nurse without considerable difficulty. Moreover, gowns folded in a haphazard manner are always liable to come unfolded and contaminated accidentally while being moved about the operating room by the nonsterile personnel. Such accidental contamination may occur simply because it is so difficult to determine where the top of the gown is located or where it will fall when unfolded.

Some attempts have been made to solve the problems presented by the necessity of having a surgical gown which unfolds easily in a predictable manner and yet remains completely sterile. One such method of making a gown and folding is shown in U.S. Pat. No. 3,359,569 to R. J. Rotanz et al., issued Dec. 26, 1967. This patent illustrates a gown made with hand grasping pockets having interior surfaces which may come in contact with nonsterile personnel or areas without endangering the sterility of the exterior gown surface. The gown containing these pockets is folded in such a manner that the interior surface is exposed and the pockets face up. When the nonsterile personnel insert their hands into the pockets and shake the gown, it falls open from the top downward, presenting an exterior uncontaminated surface. Though the gown of this invention does provide a method of folding and unfolding which insures sterility, it has several disadvantages and does not solve the problems of quick and easy accessibility.

First, this gown must be specially manufactured since the hand-hold pockets that it requires are not available on the gowns normally used in surgical procedures. This special manufacture, of course, adds to the cost of these gowns.

Second, when the gown folded as shown by Rotanz is unfolded and in position for vesting by the wearer, the sleeves 3, as is shown in FIG. 7, hang at an angle parallel to that of the body of the wearer. This position requires considerable acrobatic movement and much time on the part of the wearer to insert his hands and arms into and through these sleeves. The angle at which the sleeves of the Rotanz gown hang make it nearly impossible for a wearer to don the gown himself, as must often be done in obstetrical procedures where a circulating nurse may not be available.

DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The surgical gown and method of folding of this invention overcomes the problems and disadvantages presented by the gowns and methods of folding previously used in surgical and medical procedures. It provides a gown and a method of folding this gown which maintains the exterior surfaces of the gown in a completely sterile condition prior to use but which provides for predictable and controlled unfolding and quick, easy and unassisted vestiture by the wearer.

This invention achieves these desirable advantages by a unique method of folding a gown including a body portion having two back panels and a front panel, two sleeve portions integral with the body portion, aseptic closure means and a belting means. The method of folding which permits sterility, predictable unfolding and easy manipulation and donning of the gown is accomplished by a first folding inwardly of creased grasping flaps forming the inside edges of the opposite back panels of the gown and attaching these flaps at their upper ends to the neck or shoulder of the gown to maintain them in folded position. A longitudinal inward fold of the back panels of the gown is made toward the center, before or after which each sleeve portion is pulled inwardly through itself in inside-out fashion until the ends of the sleeve portions lie adjacent and parallel one another at a certain distance inward from their point of attachment to the body portion of the gown. This sleeve folding forms openings for the wearer's arms near this point of attachment. The body portion of the gown is folded upwardly in a plurality of sections from its bottom until the top edge of one section is adjacent a line drawn between the armpits of the parallel sleeve portions. The upper section of the gown, including the sleeve portions and the part of the front panel underlying them, is then folded downwardly over the previously folded sections. Before or after this fold, the collar points or the ends of the neck of the gown are folded downwardly or tucked between the oppositely folded sections. The arm openings formed in the sleeve portions and lying at each end of the gown are then folded to the center of the gown so that these openings are adjacent and facing one another. The gown is then again folded in half upon itself so that these arms openings are facing the same direction. At this point, the gown presents a compact package which exposes only its interior surfaces to the environment, and which may not be accidentally shaken open or come unfolded inadvertently as it is moved from place to place. To open the gown, the wearer merely inserts his right hand a short distance into the right sleeve arm opening and his left hand a similar distance into the left sleeve opening and grasps a piece of the interior surface material within the openings between his fingers.

In this position, the wearer then moves his arms apart upwardly and outwardly, causing the sleeve portions and body portion of the gown to be moved apart. The gown proceeds to gently unfold with its exterior surface unfolding away from the body of the wearer so that its sterility is not in danger of contamination.

The gown is well marked for the convenience of the wearer before unfolding so that when the gown is opened properly, the top of the gown will be up and the bottom will fall toward the floor. Thus, there is no danger of confusing the portions of the gown and opening it upside down.

A distinct advantage of this method of folding is that the gown unfolds slowly, or at a speed that may be controlled by the person opening the gown and permitting this person to see the direction and speed at which the gown is unfolding and to thereby avoid any accidental contamination by contact with parts of the table or other personnel in the room.

A major advantage of this surgical gown and method of folding is that the wearer inserts his arms directly into the sleeves of the gown, thus eliminating the necessity to search for these sleeves or to attempt to position his arm in a gown sleeve which hangs parallel to his body, and may begin above his shoulder level and end below his waist. The ability of the wearer to insert his arms directly into the interior of the sleeve portions prevents any problem of binding which occurs from loosely hanging gown sleeves such as those necessarily available on gowns folded by prior methods.

When the gown of this invention is unfolded, the wearer's arms are already in the sleeves and little effort or time is required for him to move his arms to a gloving position. This invention requires no specially manufactured gown having grasping pockets so its cost may be kept to a minimum.

Complete sterility of all exposed or outside surfaces of this gown is preserved during unfolding and closure because of the unique method of attaching the upper part of the creased grasping flap near the top portion of the body of the gown near the shoulder or neck. Once the wearer has his arms into or through the sleeves, the nonsterile circulating nurse may grasp the interior portions of the creased flaps which still face outward, unsnap them from their temporary point of retention of the gown, unfold them and overlap these flaps over one another, finally snapping the tabs of the closure means on one of these flaps on the closure means disposed on the opposite back panel to completely close the gown. Because of the manner in which the creased flap is attached to the neck, the nonsterile nurse can grasp a portion of the interior surface and aseptically close the gown at the neck while touching only a minimal and inconsequential portion of the exterior surface of the neck, if necessary.

The body of the wearer is then completely encircled in the gown securely closed by a belt means which is contained in an overwrap or a pouch which has been folded inside the gown in such a manner that it remains completely sterile during unfolding. The nonsterile nurse grasps the overwrap and walks around the wearer of the gown, unfolding the sterile belt from within the overwrap or pouch as she moves. The wearer merely takes the last portion of the belt within the overwrap while the nonsterile nurse disposes of the overwrap and ties the belt in any fashion tightly about his waist in a comfortable position.

Accordingly, it is an object of this invention to provide a surgical gown and method of folding in which only the interior surfaces of the gown are exposed to the surrounding environment after folding.

It is another object of this invention to provide a surgical gown and method of folding in which the folded gown may be grasped and moved from place to place before use without danger of inadvertently unfolding.

It is a further object of this invention to provide a surgical gown and method of folding which allows the wearer to insert his hands and arms directly into the sleeve portions of the gown, thereby eliminating the time-consuming effort, difficulty and binding which result from the wearer attempting to place his arms into loosely hanging sleeves.

It is a still further object of this invention to provide a surgical gown and method of folding which permits aseptic closure and assistance in belting the gown by a nonsterile nurse without contaminating the exterior front or back surfaces of the gown.

It is also an object of this invention to provide a surgical gown and method of folding which permits unfolding of the gown in a controlled, deliberate manner.

It is still another object of this invention to provide a surgical gown and method of folding which requires no special manufacture to achieve its unique folding and unfolding.

These and other important objects of the invention will become apparent from the following description taken in conjunction with the drawings illustrating a preferred embodiment wherein:

FIG. 1 is a plan view of a back closing surgical gown showing the first step in folding the gown according to this invention;

FIG. 2 is a plan view of the surgical gown of FIG. 1 showing the second and third steps of folding this gown completed;

FIG. 3 is a plan view of the surgical gown of FIG. 1 showing the fourth step of folding this gown completed;

FIG. 4 is a plan view of the surgical gown of FIG. 1 showing the fifth step of folding this gown completed;

FIG. 5 is a plan view of the surgical gown of FIG. 1 showing the sixth step of folding this gown completed;

FIG. 6 is a plan view of the surgical gown of FIG. 1 showing the final step of folding this gown completed;

FIG. 7 is a front perspective view of the folded surgical gown of this invention as seen from the position of the wearer showing the first step in unfolding this gown;

FIG. 8 is a top view of the surgical gown of this invention showing the gown in unfolded position and being put on by the wearer;

FIG. 9 is a front perspective view of the surgical gown of this invention in unfolded position showing the arms of the wearer inserted through the sleeve portions of the gown, the gown being ready to be aseptically closed at the collar and about the waist; and

FIG. 10 is a front perspective view of the surgical gown of FIG. 1 completely closed and belted on the wearer.

Referring now to the drawings and more particularly to FIG. 1, one embodiment of a surgical gown to be folded according to the method of this invention is shown at 10.

This gown 10 has a body portion 12 formed from a seamless piece of material, such as cloth or disposable paper. This body portion 12 includes a front panel 14 to cover the front portion of the wearer's body when the gown is worn as shown in FIG. 10, a right back panel 16 and left back panel 18. There are no definite boundaries separating the front panel 14 and back panels 16 and 18 since the body portion 12 is seamless, but these panels do describe definite front and back areas of the gown when it is worn as shown in FIG. 10.

A right sleeve portion 20 and a left sleeve portion 22 are attached to the body portion 12 of the surgical gown 10 by sewing, gluing or other acceptable means of attachment. After attachment, the sleeve portions 20 and 22 are for all purposes integral with the body portion 12. The sleeve portions 20 and 22 terminate at their outermost ends in expansive cuff means 23 which encircle the wrists of the wearer and prevent possible flow of microorganisms along the passageway provided by the sleeve portions 20 and 22. The body portion 12 of the surgical gown 10 of this embodiment has grasping flaps 24 which are disposed along the facing edges of the right back panel 16 and left back panel 18 and formed from the material of the body portion 12. These flaps 24 may be precreased at a point a given distance inward from the edge of the back panels 16 and 18 and along a line substantially parallel to the longitudinal axis of the gown 10. The back panels 16 and 18 are then folded on this creased line to form the grasping flaps 24 which aid in the aseptic closure of the gown 10 after it is put on. The body portion 12 of the gown 10 has flap closing means 25 disposed on the upper portion of the body 12 of the gown 10 attachable to aseptic closure means 26 disposed on the upper portion of flaps 24 which may be used to temporarily maintain creased grasping flaps 24 in a folded position prior to closing of the gown. The complementary aseptic collar closure means 26 disposed near the neck or collar 31 on the respective grasping flaps 24 on panels 16 and 18 on either side of the body portion 12 act, when joined together, to close the gown at the neck as shown in FIG. 10.

In this particular embodiment of the gown 10, a belting means 28 is also shown attached to the body portion 12 on the right-hand side of the front panel 14 thereof. This belting means 28 may be attached by sewing or gluing, although gluing is preferred for gown uses requiring high sterility since holes made in the body portion 12 by sewing present passageways which allow the possible passage or microorganisms from the clothes of the wearer into the operating field. This belting means 28 includes a belt overwrap 27 having a belt 29 made of cloth or paper material folded therein. A belt loop 33 is similarly attached to the front panel 14 of the body portion 12 through which the belt 29 may be passed and which acts to hold the belt in a definite position with respect to the waist of the wearer.

Although the embodiment illustrated in the drawings is preferred in the construction of this gown because it provides the greatest degree of sterility and most effective and surest means of closing, the method of folding and gown features described in this invention are also applicable to various other embodiments of surgical gowns, including those used in procedures not requiring such a great degree of sterility. For example, another embodiment of this surgical gown which may be folded by the same method uses a pressure-sensitive tape positioned near the edges of one or both of the creased flaps 24 on the back panels 16 and 18 of the gown which may be pressed to the clothing of the wearer before closure of the aseptic means 26 at the neck 31 of the gown to hold the gown in a temporarily closed position to facilitate complete aseptic closure. Such pressure-sensitive tape could, of course, be used on the previously described preferred embodiment of the gown 10. The aseptic closure means 26 at the neck of the gown may also include, besides snaps, Velcro strips disposed on the opposite back panels 16 and 18 of the gown near the neck 31. This second embodiment of the gown might have a belting means 28 including, instead of the overwrap 27 and belt 29 shown in FIG. 1, one or more ties sewn near the edges of the right back panel 16 and left back panel 18 in corresponding positions which, when tied, act to effectively close the gown at the back.

A third embodiment of the gown is often used in obstetrical and gynecological procedures which do not require as great a degree of sterility as various other surgical procedures. This type of gown often has sewn seams called "inside seams" which reduce the expense of its manufacture. In addition, it may have free hanging ties used as a belting means 28. It is significant, however, that in obstetrical procedures, the doctor must often gown himself without the assistance of a nonsterile or circulating nurse. In this use, the method of folding the gown set forth in this invention is extremely important since it is essential that the doctor be able to quickly and easily put on the gown by himself. As mentioned previously, this unique method of folding enables a doctor to gown himself without wasting valuable time exerting a great amount of effort in finding hanging sleeves or avoiding contaminating sterile areas.

The first step in the method of folding the various embodiments of a surgical gown according to this invention is to place the gown 10 in the position shown in FIG. 1 so that the exterior surfaces which will be exposed to the patient and the other personnel in the operating area are facing upward. The grasping flaps 24, which are formed at the edges of back panels 16 and 18, are then folded inwardly along a crease substantially paralleling the longitudinal axis of the gown 10 ad located a definite distance inward from the edge of the back panels 16 and 18, so that the grasping flaps 24 are formed having their interior surfaces, i.e., those surfaces which will face toward the clothes of the wearer, facing upward. The grasping flaps 24 are maintained in their folded position by attaching flap closing means 25 including a snap or Velcro strip located on the body portion 12 of the gown 10 at its upper end near the collar 31 to a corresponding aseptic closure means 26 disposed at the upper portion of flaps 24. These closing means 25 allow grasping flaps 24 to be temporarily attached to the front panel 14 of the gown 10. FIG. 1 shows the gown having the grasping flaps creased, folded and attached in the manner described.

The next step in folding the gown 10 is shown in FIG. 2. The back panels 16 and 18 are folded longitudinally inwardly upon the exterior surface of the front panel 14 of the gown toward the center of the gown. When such fold is completed, a small distance may remain between the opposite edges of the right back panel 16 and left back panel 18 as shown in FIG. 2.

The sleeve portions 20 and 22 of the gown are then pulled inwardly through themselves from the position shown in FIG. 1 until the expansive cuff means 23 lie parallel and adjacent one another as shown in FIG. 2. The sleeve portions 20 and 22 must be parallel, flat and substantially perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the gown 10 to prevent binding when the gown is unfolded. The sleeves 20 and 22 should be pulled inwardly through themselves in this inside-out fashion approximately 6 inches from the shoulder seam. While the cuff means 23 may overlap, they may also, as shown in FIG. 2, simply lie along the same line opposite one another, depending upon the size of the gown. When the sleeves are pulled through one another in this fashion, a right arm opening 32 is formed by the right sleeve portion 20, and a left arm opening 34 is formed by the left sleeve portion 22. It is noteworthy that the step of pulling the sleeves 20 and 22 inside-out may be performed prior to the longitudinal folding of the right back panel 16 and left back panel 18 previously described.

The gown 10 is then folded from its bottom upwardly upon itself in three folds indicated by F4, F5 and F6 in FIG. 2. The sections formed by the folds should be substantially equal in area to provide uniform unfolding. Again, these folds are inside folds so that the exterior surface which must be maintained in a sterile condition is at all times contained on the inside of the folded gown 10.

When these last three folds have been accomplished, the collar tabs 30 which contain the aseptic collar closure means 26 may be folded downwardly on top of the parallel sleeve portions 20 and 22. At this stage, the gown presents the appearance shown in FIG. 3. Next, the top section of the gown 10 which includes the inwardly drawn or tucked sleeve portions 20 and 22 is folded along fold F7 downwardly upon the previously folded sections so that the gown is placed in a position shown in FIG. 4. The fold F7 shown in FIG. 3 is a line running generally between the armpits of sleeve portions 20 and 22 along the top edge of the previously upwardly folded sections of the body portion 12. It is important to note that the collar tabs 30 may be folded down after fold F7 is made and tucked between this top section and the previously folded sections of the body portion 12.

The arm openings 32 and 34, shown in FIG. 4, are then folded inwardly along fold lines F8 toward the center of the gown 10 until the gown is in the position shown in FIG. 5. The last fold is then made along fold line F9, shown in FIG. 5, by backwardly folding the gown in half at the center so that the arm openings 32 and 34 are parallel and facing in the same direction as shown in FIG. 6. The gown 10 is now ready for sterilization by such means as ethylene oxide. In this position, the gown 10 may be transported from place to place without danger of unfolding and is ready for immediate use in medical and surgical procedures. Alternatively, it may be stored within a protective wrap and still retain the sterility of the exterior surfaces, which are folded inside, for a long period of time.

In its folded position shown in FIG. 6, the gown may be easily opened and put on by one person by inserting, as shown in FIG. 7, the right hand arm into the right arm opening 32 and sleeve 20 and the left hand and arm into the left arm opening 34 and sleeve 22 and grasping a small portion of the gown material inside these sleeve portions 20 and 22, such material being the interior surface of the gown which does not require complete sterility, and moving and spreading the arms apart in an outward and slightly upward manner so that the gown slowly unfolds as shown in FIG. 8. The person being gowned then is able to easily work his arms forward toward the cuff means 23 as far as desired, depending upon whether gloving will take place before or after he inserts his hands through the cuff means 23.

Once the wearer has the gown in the position shown in FIG. 9, the nonsterile or circulating nurse or the gown wearer himself takes hold of one of the grasping flaps 24 near its upper end, disconnects it from its temporary position where it has been held by the flap closing means 25, pulls it around the back of the neck, always touching the outside facing but interior surface of the grasping flap 24, and fastens the aseptic closure means 26 positioned on it to the complementary aseptic closure means 26 disposed on the opposite grasping flap 24 which has been undone in the same fashion. The aseptic closure means 26 disposed on these opposite grasping flaps 24 may consist of complementary snap means, Velcro pressure strips or pressure-sensitive tape. As mentioned in connection with the second embodiment of this gown, pressure-sensitive tape located on the back panels 16 and 18 near the midsection of the body portion 12 of the gown may be pressed to the clothing of the wearer to temporarily hold the gown in the closed position so that the attachment of the aseptic closure means 26 at the neck may be performed more easily.

Since the only surface of the gown handled during the closing of the gown at the neck is the interior surface exposed by the fold of the grasping flaps 24, the gown may be closed by the nonsterile or circulating nurse without affecting the sterility of any of the exterior surfaces.

Once the gown has been closed at the neck, the circulating nurse then grasps the overwrap 27 of the belting means 28 and walks around the gown wearer, holding onto the overwrap 27 while unfolding the belt 29 contained within the overwrap 28. The wearer takes the sterile ends of the belt 29 and ties them together at the front in any manner that is desirable and comfortable as shown in FIG. 10. The position of the aseptic closure means 26 on the upper end of the creased flap 24 is such that when the closure means 26 are properly attached to each other, the grasping flap portions 24 overlap so that the back of the gown is completely enclosed.

The other embodiments of the construction of the gown itself, described previously, may use free hanging ties instead of the belting means 28 to secure closure of the gown. After the neck is closed in these types of gowns, the wearer merely secures the ties as desired at his back.

It is obvious that the steps used in folding the gown to obtain a package which may be directly opened, as shown in FIG. 8, so that the arms of the wearer are already partially inserted into the gown when it is opened, and which may be carried from place to place without unfolding, may be varied somewhat and still achieve the result and advantages desired. Thus, the sequence of operations in this method of folding is not as significant as the operations themselves.

While the invention has been described in relation to preferred embodiments thereof, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that the details of the gown and method of folding are capable of wide variation without departing from the spirit and scope of the appended claims.