Idaho doctor and nurse give hospital gowns an update

The mental lightbulb lit up in Dr. Brian Kerr's brain during a routine day at a Boise hospital.

Registered nurse Carleen Egbert and anesthesiologist Kerr watched an older patient walking away from them, her hospital gown gaping open in the back.

"Why can't somebody come up with a gown that covers the butt?" Egbert asked rhetorically.

That was May 2005. It took almost four years to turn the idea for a new gown into a patented product manufactured and distributed through a medical and surgical supply company with a worldwide reach.

The gowns part on the sides. A sash ties in front.

A first shipment of 150,000 gowns is on its way to the U.S. from China.

St. Luke's and Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center are looking into using the gowns, some of which are expected to arrive in Boise by June.

"We are impressed with it, but it has to go through our internal evaluation process," St. Luke's Boise Medical Center spokesman Ken Dey said Wednesday.

For patients, the issue is privacy and dignity. For nurses and doctors, it is access to parts of patients' bodies that are blocked by traditional gowns, especially if patients are double-gowned.

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