A hospital gown is a thin gown that has back ties. It may be made of cotton or paper and is frequently worn by patients in the hospital setting. Doctors offices may also request patients don a hospital gown prior to examinations, and hospital gowns are common attire for a number of outpatient tests and procedures, such as mammograms, CAT scans, or sonograms.
Paper, or paper/plastic disposable hospital gowns are most commonly used in doctor’s offices, since if a patient has to wear one for a few hours he/she may get cold and uncomfortable. Using cotton gowns is more cost effective and environmentally friendly because they can be rewashed and used again. Though gowns come in a variety of sizes, to accommodate anything from babies to small and large adults, few would call a hospital gown flattering attire. They are designed primarily for the convenience of doctors and nurses, instead of to suit the fashion or even privacy needs of patients.
One frequent complaint regarding the hospital gown is that even with back ties or snaps, the rear end is seldom covered completely. On the one hand, this gives doctors and other medical professionals easy access to giving shots in the rear, or to changing patients who have toileting needs. On the other hand though, getting out of bed, especially in a shared room with another patient, can reveal more about you than you’d feel comfortable letting a host of strangers (or friends and family) know. You may want to ask whether you can keep underwear on if you’re staying in a hospital; choose large full coverage undies or boxer shorts, rather than revealing thongs or bikini style pairs. Another option is to bring a robe, but it may be difficult to get one on if you have IV (intravenous) lines in your arms.
Sometimes, when a hospital stay is lengthy, you may not need to wear a hospital gown the entire time, though there are certainly now some “designer” gowns, which might give you some range in fabric patterns. However, you may be able to wear your own clothing, pajamas, nightgowns or robes, and some believe this elevates mood and makes hospital patients feel less like victims or sick people. If you do need to stay in a hospital gown, and feel a little bare, you could wear two of them, one that closes in front, and one in back for more privacy. When privacy is not only a personal but religious need, there are some gowns that provide greater coverage. In the 2000s, a burqa gown was developed to give Islamic women who wear the burqa a better feeling of privacy.
People visiting others in the hospital often find they are a little embarrassed by the frequent nudity caused by inadequate covering. While nudity in other settings and public places is not generally acceptable, in hospitals, it is totally expected. It may take a bit of imagination, but you simply must behave and pretend as though the person is not nearly nude, or that there is nothing abnormal about such a state. Even Miss Manners, suggests that the only polite course of action is to ignore anything you might accidentally see, so as not embarrass a person wearing a hospital gown.