If the person you are visiting is on “isolation precautions,” talk to the nurse before entering the room to find out what steps you will have to take, such as wearing a mask or other protective clothing.

In the hospital, isolation precautions are used to help stop the spread of germs from one person to another. The goal is to protect patients, their families, other visitors, and healthcare workers—and stop germs from spreading across a healthcare setting.

There are three different types of isolation precautions:

  1. Contact Isolation Precautions—used for infections, diseases, or germs that are spread by touching the patient or items in the room (examples: MRSA, VRE, diarrheal illnesses, open wounds, RSV).
  2. Droplet Isolation Precautions—used for diseases or germs that are spread in tiny droplets caused by coughing and sneezing (examples: pneumonia, influenza, whooping cough, bacterial meningitis).
  3. Airborne Isolation Precautions—used for diseases or very small germs that are spread through the air from one person to another (examples: tuberculosis, measles, chickenpox).

If you or a family member has been placed on isolation precautions, there will be a sign at the door of your hospital room to remind visitors and healthcare workers which isolation precautions are needed. It is important to understand what this means for you and what you should expect from the hospital staff.

All visitors and healthcare workers should follow the isolation precautions. In some cases, this means visitors (and visits) may have to be limited. Visitors should not eat or drink in isolation rooms and should always clean their hands before entering the room and upon exiting the room.

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