Transmission-based precautions are extra steps to follow for illnesses that are caused by certain germs. Transmission-based precautions are followed in addition to standard precautions. Some infections require more than one type of transmission-based precaution.
Follow transmission-based precautions when an illness is first suspected. Stop taking these precautions only when that 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 masks when they leave their rooms.
Airborne precautions may be needed for germs that are so small they can float in the air and travel long distances.
- Airborne precautions help keep staff, visitors, and other patients from breathing in these germs and getting sick.
- Germs that warrant airborne precautions include chickenpox, measles, and tuberculosis (TB) bacteria.
- Patients who have these germs should be in special rooms where the air is gently sucked out and not allowed to flow into the hallway. This is called a negative pressure room.
- Anyone who goes into the room should put on a well-fitted respirator mask before they enter.
Contact precautions may be needed for germs that are spread by touching.
- Contact precautions help keep staff and visitors from spreading the germs after touching a patient or an object the patient has touched.
- Some of the germs that contact precautions protect from are C. difficile and norovirus. These germs can cause serious infection in the intestines.
- Anyone entering the room -- who may touch the patient or objects in the room -- should wear a gown and gloves.
Droplet precautions are used to prevent contact with mucus and other secretions from the nose and sinuses, throat, airways, and lungs.
- When a patient talks, sneezes, or coughs, droplets that contain germs can travel about 3 feet.
- Illnesses that require droplet precautions include influenza (flu), pertussis (whooping cough), and mumps.
- Anyone who goes into the room should wear a surgical mask.