Exploring the Differences: Level 1 and Level 2 Isolation Gowns

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), such as an isolation gown, is pivotal in safeguarding healthcare workers against infections and diseases. They provide a reliable barrier against microorganisms and prevent the spread of cross-contamination in hospitals and medical centers.

The Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) assesses the fluid permeability of disposable gowns. This post will explore the differences between Level 1 and Level 2 isolation gowns.

Isolation Gowns

Isolation Gowns in Healthcare

In the dangerous world of healthcare, it’s important to have standards to keep medical personnel safe from varying hazards. Isolation gowns are rated from Level 1 to Level 4, with Level 1 offering the least protection and Level 4 the most.

Level 1 gowns offer some resistance to water and fluids and prevent them from soaking through the material, but not to the same degree as a level 4 gown. These gowns find their place in hospitals, urgent care centers, and long-term care facilities.

Level 1 Isolation Gowns

Level 1 gowns are non-sterile and have a fit that can be adjusted with ties in the back. These gowns are always disposable and should be disposed of after each use. 

They offer basic protection against liquids but are not designed to withstand liquids under force. The main function is to prevent infectious agents from entering clothes and spreading to other patients.

Level 2 Isolation Gowns

Level 2 gowns are also non-sterile. Although identical to level 1 gowns in appearance, they have a heavier material composition that offers a higher level of barrier protection without sacrificing breathability and comfort.

Level 1 vs. Level 2 Isolation Gowns

Choosing between level 1 and level 2 gowns depends on the medical procedure. Visitors to immunocompromised individuals may be safe with level 1 gowns, whereas a nurse needing to draw blood may opt for a level 2 gown.

It’s best to defer to your hospital’s protocols for choosing the right gown level. Using a higher-level gown than necessary may be good to play it safe, especially if the risks are unclear.

It’s best to have multiple gown levels at healthcare facilities to allow staff protection regardless of the circumstances.

Surgical Gowns

Surgical gowns and isolation gowns, although having the same level designation, differ in design. Surgical gowns offer more protection, making them useful in surgeries and other high-risk operations. The gowns feature more material between the torso and the knee and the sleeves to add more barrier protection against liquids. Some surgical gowns have reinforced seems or hems to prevent tears.

Although nurses may be familiar with level 1 gowns in their day-to-day work, if needing to use a higher-level gown, the donning procedure is similiar. Level 3 and 4 gowns are primarily reserved for major surgeries.


The most significant difference between the different levels of isolation gowns is their resistance to water and other fluids. Level 1 and 2 gowns are frequently used for basic protection, whereas levels 3 and 4 are likely reserved for surgeries and other high-risk procedures.

Each situation is different, and the selection of the appropriate gown depends on the level of protection required.


HarmonyCR.com - Blog