Isolation precautions create barriers between people and germs. They are taken to help prevent the spread of germs in the hospital.
Anybody who visits a hospital patient who has an isolation sign outside their door should stop at the nurses’ station before entering the patient’s room. The number of visitors and staff who enter the patient’s room should be limited.
Different types of isolation precautions protect against different types of germs.
You should follow standard precautions with all patients.
When you are close to, or are handling, blood, body fluid, body tissues, mucous membranes, or areas of open skin, you must use personal protective equipment, depending on the anticipated exposure, such as:
It is also important to properly clean up afterward.
Transmission-based precautions are extra steps to follow for illnesses that are caused by certain germs. Standard precautions and these extra precautions will both need to be followed. Some infections require more than one type of transmission-based precaution.
Start following transmission-based precautions when the illness is first suspected. Stop them only when the illness has been treated or ruled-out and the room has been cleaned.
Patients should stay in their rooms as much as possible while these precautions are in place. They may need to wear a mask when they leave their room.
Airborne precautionsmay be needed for germs that are so small they can float in the air and travel long distances.
Contact precautionsmay be needed for germs that are spread by touching.
Droplet precautions are usedto prevent contact with mucus and other secretions from the nose and sinuses, throat, airways, and lungs.
Siegel JD, Rhinehart E, Jackson M, Chiarello L, and the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee, 2007 Guideline for Isolation Precautions: Preventing Transmission of Infectious Agents in Healthcare Settings.
Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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