Why aren't gowns required in Droplet & Airborne Precautions?

Nurses General Nursing


Hello fellow nursing friends,

So I understand that contact precautions require us to wear gowns, but I was wondering why we're only required to wear masks/N95 during droplet or airborne precautions & not gowns too?

I know that in droplet or airborne precautions the pathogens can be transmitted when a patient talks, coughs or sneezes and the secretions land into our nose/mouth/eyes, but can't the pathogens also land on our clothes, where we or someone else may accidentally touch our clothes then our eyes or mouths after?

Thank you for your help!

molecular weight of droplet-borne diseases causes them to not be spread very far at all. the masks are there as a safeguard because the size generally cant pass through the mask to transfer the pathogen.

unless you rub your face all over your scrubs, it kinda doesn't matter if someone with droplet precs sneezes on your uni. its kind of a big deal if they sneeze into your mouth though. portal of entry and all that jazz

Oh, that makes sense! I guess if someone sneezes on your face then you're getting a greater quantity of pathogens entering your system, but if it's on your clothes and then you touch your face then only a few of those pathogens may enter your system - which is not enough to cause an infection.

Is this correct? Thanks for your help!

Specializes in ED, Pedi Vasc access, Paramedic serving 6 towns.


I was wondering the same thing, and actual wear a gown even in rooms that require a mask only for that reason. I am also starting IVs on people and doing central line care throughout the hospital, thus I feel I should wear a gown since I am in very close contact with the patient for several minutes and also deal with neonates and small children.

I wil aso say that when I worked in the ER I was in a small triage room with an active TB patient (she had disseminated TB throughout her organs and lungs) for several minutes and I never tested positive for TB, even though I was in close proximity and she was coughing. I didn't know right away of course that she may have TB until I questioned her, and then she was immediately taken back to a negative pressure room. She had also come from Africa on a plane and I didn't hear of an outbreak, so I am guessing that it's harder then we think to transmit it. Unfortunately she progressed rapidly and they could not save her, she went from alert and talking with minimal distress to on a ventilator within a few hours and deceased within a couple of days.


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