There is a significant risk of clothing soilure and skin contamination from patients' blood or other body fluids whilst working in an accident and emergency (A&E) department. It is therefore unhygienic to wear personal clothing and traditional uniforms do not provide adequate protection. Contamination occurs despite operating 'universal precautions' and emergency presentations often preclude adopting such precautions despite the anticipation of possible contact with blood or other body fluids. The protection afforded to medical staff working in an A&E department by a suit made from a liquid repellent polyester fabric was assessed during the period 2 November 1992-1 January 1993. Ninety-one splash incidents were recorded. A total of 85.7% of splashes (78) were with patients' blood, 13.1% with vomitus (12) and 1.1% with pus (1). There were no instances of splashes to the suit that resulted in strike through to the inner surface or visible contamination of underlying skin. However, some 15.4% of splashes (14) resulted in contamination of exposed skin and 78.6% of these (11) occurred between glove and sleeve. Clothing of appropriated design and fabric can afford skin protection from blood and body fluid contamination. Such clothing alone does not provide overall protection and other precautions currently recommended should be taken.
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