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Isolation Precautions for Adult Patients

Airborne and Contact Isolation Precautions

What are airborne and contact precautions?

Airborne and contact precautions are steps that healthcare facility visitors and staff need to follow when going into or leaving a patient’s room. They help stop germs from spreading so other people don’t get sick. Airborne and contact precautions are for patients who have germs that can spread:

  • through the air
  • by touching the patient or surfaces in their room
  • How do I know if a patient is on airborne and contact precautions?

    There will be a sign at the door. It tells healthcare facility visitors and staff what they need to do before going into the patient’s room and when they leave the room.

    What should I do before visiting a patient on airborne and contact precautions?

    Speak to a nurse before your first visit and before you bring children. There may be limits on who can visit the patient.

    What should I do before I go into the patient’s room?

    1. Clean your hands. Use soap and water or hand sanitizer (alcohol-based hand rub).
    2. Put on an air-filtration mask, which is also called an N95 respirator. Ask a nurse to help you put on the mask, check its fit, and take it off properly (video).
    3. Put on a gown and then gloves if you’re helping with patient care (if not you don’t need these). Tie the gown at your neck and waist, and put the cuffs of the gloves over the cuffs of the gown.
    4. Enter the patient’s room and close the door.

    What should I do when I leave the patient’s room?

    If you’re visiting a patient who has diarrhea, clean your hands with soap and water, not hand sanitizer, when you leave their room. If you’re not wearing a gown and gloves, start at step 4. If you’re wearing a gown and gloves:

    1. Take off the gloves by holding the outside edge near your wrist. Put the gloves in the garbage in the patient’s room. Don’t wear the gloves in other areas of the healthcare facility.
    2. Clean your hands.
    3. Untie the gown at your neck and waist and take it off. Put the gown in the linen hamper or garbage in the patient’s room. Don’t wear the gown in other areas of the healthcare facility.
    4. Clean your hands.
    5. Leave the patient’s room. Close the door behind you.
    6. Take off the mask the way the nurse showed you and put it in the garbage. Don’t touch the front of the mask. Don’t wear the mask in other areas of the healthcare facility.
    7. Clean your hands again.

    Can a patient on airborne and contact precautions leave their room?

    A patient on airborne and contact precautions may leave their room only if necessary (for example, to go for a medical test). They must wear a mask at all times when they’re out of their room.

    How else can I stop germs from spreading?

    • Don’t visit a patient in a healthcare facility if you have a fever, cold, or diarrhea.
    • Don’t visit if you have recently been around someone with a contagious disease (this means a disease others can catch, such as chickenpox or the flu).
    • Use public washrooms at the healthcare facility. Don’t use the patient’s washroom.
    • Talk to a healthcare provider if you have questions about how to stop germs from spreading.

    For 24/7 nurse advice and general health information call Health Link at 811.

    Current as of: February 1, 2020

    Author: Infection Prevention and Control, Alberta Health Services