Isolation gowns are designed to prevent cross-contamination and protect the wearer's skin and clothing from infectious liquids and solids. FDA guidance outlines four standardized levels of protection, so what's the difference between the four levels of protection provided by gowns?

Level 1

Gowns that provide level 1 protection provide minimal protection and are typically used in general hospital situations, or when healthcare workers are only providing essential care and sterile gowns are not required. These gowns have a slight barrier to fluids but are not suitable for blood draws, intensive care units and pathology labs.

Level 2

Isolation gowns with level 2 protection are ideal for low-risk environments, such as drawing blood from veins or working in pathology labs and ICUs, where sterile gowns are not required. Class 2 robes are tested by pressurizing the material used to make the robe and impacting the robe with water. These burqas can block more liquids than a class 1 burqa and effectively prevent liquids from penetrating through splashing or soaking.

Level 3

Gowns with protection class 3 are ideal for medium risk situations such as drawing blood from arteries, inserting into veins, emergency rooms or trauma work that requires sterile gowns and equipment. These robes are also effective against splashes and soaking. The same test used for a level 2 robe was used to test the efficacy of a level 3 robe.

Level 4

Level 4 gowns provide the highest level of protection and are suitable for all high-risk situations (for example, during surgery in an operating room that requires sterile equipment). These heavy robes keep liquids and viruses from penetrating for up to an hour. These gowns resist pathogens, ward off non-airborne diseases, and act as a barrier to bulk fluids for extended periods of time.