Main Content

Isolation rooms

Isolation rooms are special hospital rooms that keep patients separate from other people while they receive medical care.

Isolation rooms are needed for patients who have certain medical conditions or infections, often in the skin, the lungs or airways, or the intestines. These rooms may be used to prevent the spread of germs to other people. These rooms may also be used by patients who have a condition that makes them more easily infected by others.

Sometimes isolation rooms use negative air pressure to help prevent contagious diseases (such as tuberculosis or influenza [flu]) from escaping the room and infecting other people. This means that air is constantly being pulled into the room by a machine that then filters the air before it is moved outside. In a negative air pressure room, you may be able to feel air being sucked into the room under a closed door or through a slightly opened window.

In other cases, such as when a patient has a weakened immune system, positive air pressure may be used to keep contagious diseases out of the room. In a positive air pressure room, clean, filtered air is constantly pumped into the room from outside. This prevents "contaminated" air from getting in. With this type of isolation room, you may be able to feel air blowing out of the room under a closed door.

Patients who are being treated in isolation may be allowed to have visitors. But all visitors and hospital workers who enter the room almost always wear masks, gowns, and gloves to prevent the spread of contagious diseases. Everyone entering or leaving the room needs to wash their hands thoroughly.

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.