Hospital gowns

Farm Forum

I’m back from my annual performance at the hospital where once more I tussled with hospital apparel.

Hospital gowns, that is.

Of all the wonderful and remarkable advances in medicine over the past century there has apparently been no effort to improve on those one size fits all, threadbare, patched-up hospital gowns. Someone should apply for a grant to come up with something better, maybe made of cornhusks, woven hay bale string or chicken feathers.

Rather than issuing patients with something that’s simple and comfortable, hospitals have been stuck in time with those gosh-awful gowns they’ve used for decades.

Not only do you have to wear them, but you have to wear them backwards.

It’s partly a sinister hospital tradition, I suppose, like little red squares of Jell-O. Both gowns and red squares of Jell-O are universal in the medical field.

I’m pretty sure hospital people everywhere will tell you the gown is designed so that in an emergency, physicians and nurses can have rapid access to human mechanisms.

That could be, but I’ve seen basketball players and vaudeville performers pull off snap-on pants in less time than it takes to figure out where the hospital gown’s sleeves are, or how to tie it all together in the back, for gosh sakes.

Surely health professionals, wonderful people all, are aware that most of what goes haywire with the human body in not on the backside where the gown’s easy-access draft is located, but on the front side.

I suspect hospital gowns are made the way they are because wearing one takes the patients’ minds off all the other things that are about to happen to them.

I mean, how in the name of Joseph Lister can you worry about bypass surgery, or whatever, when you just know your cold keester is making an undeserved, lengthy and chilly curtain call back there for a snickering hallway audience?

Can you hum “Blue Moon”?

I had what I thought was a good suggestion years ago that would have gotten gowns out of the nation’s hospitals and put to good use. When Homeland Security was drafting rules and regulations for people who fly in commercial airlines, I suggested that every airline passenger be required to strip down and don a hospital gown to wear for their entire airline trip.

You simply can’t hide a weapon-or anything for that matter-in a hospital gown. And who would take seriously a terrorist dressed in one of those darn things anyway?

Sadly, nothing ever came of my idea to give the nation’s outdated hospital gown supply to cash-strapped airlines.

So I have a feeling that hospitals will continue to have a copious supply of obsolete gowns whenever you and I drop by for our visit.

If you’d like to make a comment, e-mail the author at