Objective: To study the effect of gowning in a neonatal intensive care unit on colonization patterns, necrotizing enterocolitis, respiratory syncytial virus and other infections, mortality, and traffic and handwashing patterns.
Methods: Alternate 2-month gowning and no-gowning cycles were established in a 24-bed level III neonatal intensive care unit for 8 months, with respiratory site, umbilical, and stool surveillance cultures done weekly on all patients. Traffic flow and handwashing compliance were evaluated by direct observation.
Results: Demographic data did not differ between periods. There were no significant differences between the gowning and no-gowning periods in the rates of bacterial colonization, any type of infection, or mortality. There was no effect on traffic flow or handwashing compliance.
Conclusion: Gowning in the neonatal intensive care unit is an unnecessary custom without benefit in neonatal colonization, infection rates, mortality, traffic patterns, and handwashing behavior.