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Depending on where you work, you may be able to wear a cloth surgical cap of your choice or you may be stuck wearing the silly lunch-lady bouffant. I have worked in multiple locations as a surgical tech and it seems they all have different ideas on which is appropriate. Some places are fine with just a cloth surgical cap while others require you to wear only disposables, or a bouffant over your cap.
I have always loved being able to choose my surgical cap. It shows my personality and it keeps my copious amount of hair contained. The flimsy bouffants offered at work do little to keep my hair contained, which defeats the purpose all together. So what do you do when your job requires a silly surgical cap that doesn’t work? Well you follow the rules of course! But I recently found a study that can put some questions to rest.
An article posted in General Surgery News, “Surgical Caps Get Clean Bill of Health.” It states that in a study of over 6,200 ventral hernia repairs, done by 68 surgeons, there were no associations between what kinds of surgical caps were worn and the risk for surgical site infection. Unfortunately this study only covered one type of surgery, so it may not apply to all other cases. But at least we now have something solid to go off of. For more information about this study, check out their website.
What To Wear
So now that we can feel at ease wearing our personal surgical caps, what do you wear? There are so many styles and patterns it can become overwhelming. There is the skull cap, generally worn by men or women with short hair. The traditional bouffant, the pixie (my favorite), and the ponytail cap. I’m sure there are other styles but these are the most common. All these styles and hundreds of patterns make for some awesome surgical cap choices. There are so many places to buy these so I have compiled some of my favorites here to make the search easier for you.
Care of Your Surgical Caps
Depending on what kind of cases you are doing, your surgical cap may stay clean or could end up a bio-hazard. If your cap becomes saturated with a patient’s bodily fluid or any other bio-hazard, best practice would be to throw it out. But if your cap stays fairly clean then the proper handling and cleaning is safe for reuse. I only wear my surgical cap once. I then put it in a bag to be taken home at the end of the week to be laundered. When I wash my caps I use hot water, a small amount of bleach, and laundry detergent. Once the load is done, I do an empty load with hot water and bleach. This is to ensure my washing machine is clean for my daily laundry needs.
What’s Right For You?
There still is a lot of controversy regarding the use of cloth surgical caps. Follow the rules and standards of your facility and then do what you feel comfortable with. Above all the patient comes first. Happy scrubbing!