No more peek-a-boo hospital gowns, no more bottoms up

Jun 23, 2010
The DUO hospital gown, created by Noémi Marquis and Denyse Roy of the University of Montreal, facilitates medical exams. Credit: University of Montreal

Patients seeking to conserve privacy and personal dignity - i.e. anyone who's ever been forced to wear a traditional hospital gown that often reveal too much - may soon bid adieu peek-a-book hospital garb. Indeed, researchers from the University of Montreal have designed a revolutionary healthcare garment that preserves modesty.

Alumna Noémie Marquis and Denyse Roy, a professor at the University of Montreal School of Industrial Design, created a new hospital gown, composed of superimposed front and back panels, that doesn't accidentally reveal any private body parts. Called the DUO hospital gown, the new garment doesn't require cords or Velcro and is easy to put on. "Its dual design simplifies dressing patients and facilitates work for hospital staff who don't need to tie cords," says Marquis.

With its overlapping design, the DUO gown is one-size-fits-all, unisex and can accommodate obese patients or pregnant women alike. "Traditional hospital gowns required institutions to offer different models, especially for obese and psychiatric patients. Thanks to its lateral design, the DUO hospital gown adapts to any shape and promotes efficiencies in stock," says Roy.

Composed of 65 percent polyester and 35 percent cotton, the Duo gown is more cost-effective than traditional models and could reduce hospital overhead. "To dress 100 patients and be washed 200 times, traditional gowns cost $10,738 for initial purchase and subsequent maintenance. The same amount of patients can be dressed in DUO gowns for $9,540," says Roy. "These costs were calculated after extensive studies of hospital environments. We found 24 out of 100 patients wore two traditional gowns, one on top of the other for modesty concerns, which drives up costs when two garments need to be laundered," says Roy.

The DUO gown offers several improvements over traditional models, continues Professor Roy: "Ties have been severed, which eliminates additional labor for the manufacturer and lowers production costs. The simplified design allows laundry services to make one fold rather than two. A careful choice of fabrics means the new gown weighs less than previous models, which reduces energy, water and cleaning products used for laundering."

What's more, the new hospital gown can be manufactured using three basic prints that can be inverted to create 81 varied looks. The DUO gown was recently tested at the Montreal-based St-Mary's Hospital Center, in Montreal, where patient and health professionals showed tremendous enthusiasm for its design.

The Duo hospital gown will be manufactured and distributed by W. Laframboise Inc, which has been a hospital supplier for over 50 years in Canada. The gown was commercialized by Univalor, which takes University of Montreal discoveries from the lab into the marketplace. The designers, who secured patents for Canada and the United States, forecast the DUO hospital gown will be widely available across North America in five to ten years.

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