EOL Tech Talk: Protective wear

Edition: May 2013 - Vol 21 Number 05
Article#: 4245
Author: Repertoire

Disposable does not mean dispensable. Products such as gowns, masks and table paper comprise those small-ticket sales that add up to profitable business for distributor sales reps – and they are important to all physician specialties.

Indeed, it doesn’t pay for physicians to cut costs on the products that carry them through the day, note experts. Lower quality products do not always perform to the patients’ or providers’ expectations. For example, it’s important for nurses that table paper tears straight across, just as it is for patients that their gown fits appropriately and provides comfort and modesty. For masks, quality is equally as important. Reps should remind their customers that it isn’t worth risking their protection or comfort for a few pennies per patient.

The use of protective wear, including gowns and masks, may vary depending on the environment, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “Guidance for the Selection and Use of Personal Protective Equipment in Healthcare Settings.” But, in any healthcare setting, the selection of protective wear must be effective. The CDC recommends considering three key things when selecting protective wear:



  • Type of anticipated exposure.


  • Durability and appropriateness of the protective wear for the task.


  • Fit of protective wear. If gowns and/or masks – or any other protective wear, for that matter – do not fit well, they likely will not be as effective.




Today, there are more options when it comes to gowns and table paper. Gowns are available in multiple materials and sizes to better accommodate the needs of both patients and providers. They are designed for greater comfort and modesty, and larger gown options are available for larger or bariatric patients to meet this growing need. Similarly, the introduction of antimicrobial table paper, pillowcases and towels, designed to inhibit the growth of microbes while adding a layer of protection, are said to offer patients and providers peace of mind.

How to sell

Some physicians may object to trying new products if they believe their current protective wear is doing the job. Sales reps should find out what products their customers are currently using, and then follow up with some probing questions, such as the following:



  • “Doctor, do your existing gowns, table paper and masks provide functionality and meet the needs of your office?”


  • “What steps has your office taken to ensure infection control? Antimicrobial table paper is available, which helps inhibit the growth of microorganisms, adding extra protection for you, your staff and your patients.”


  • “Do your current gowns offer fluid barrier protection?”


  • “Are you interested in gowns designed to help keep gloves in place, or that offer a tear-away back for easy removal?”


  • “Do your current products meet your price point expectations?”




In short, sales reps shouldn’t underestimate the value of gowns, masks and table paper. These disposables are the bread-and-butter products that see your physician customers through each day, no matter what their specialty or practice size.