Isolation precautions are used to help stop the spread of germs from one person to another. These precautions protect patients, families, visitors, and healthcare workers from the spread of germs.

Generally, when patients are placed on isolation precautions, there will be a sign at the door of their hospital rooms to remind visitors and healthcare workers which isolation precautions are needed. All healthcare workers and visitors need to follow these guidelines. Healthcare workers should not eat or drink in isolation rooms and should always clean their hands before entering the room and upon exiting the room.

Standard precautions are the minimum infection prevention practices that should be used in the care of all patients all of the time. These practices are designed to both protect the healthcare worker and to prevent the healthcare worker from spreading infections among patients.

Standard precautions include:

  1. Hand hygiene
  2. Use of personal protective equipment (e.g., gloves, gowns, masks)
  3. Safe injection practices
  4. Safe handling of potentially contaminated equipment or surfaces in the patient environment, and
  5. Respiratory hygiene/cough etiquette.

Respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette are infection prevention measures to decrease the transmission of respiratory illness such as influenza or cold viruses in healthcare facilities where patients, employees, and visitors may not be immediately recognized as having a respiratory infection. These measures are part of the standard precautions that should be taken to prevent the spread of disease.
Important elements include:

  • Education of patients, families, visitors, and care providers about how respiratory infections are transmitted and how respiratory illness can be prevented. Ask family members, visitors, and care providers to stay home if they are sick.
  • Use of posted signs with instructions and pictures about how to cover your cough and wash your hands.
  • Availability and use of tissues when coughing and sneezing, and reminders to dispose of used tissues properly.
  • Use of a mask for a person who is coughing.
  • Physical separation of the person with a respiratory infection from others.
  • Stressing hand hygiene after contact with respiratory secretions. This applies to the patient, family members, visitors, employees, and care providers.

 

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