Germs mainly spread through indirect or direct contact with symptomatic or sick individuals. For that reason, protection by gowns, face shields, gloves and head coverings are essential precautions that medical workers must never neglect. These contact precautions are transmission-based, used along with standard precautions valid for working with all patients.
It is essential for you as a medical employee to be aware of all the different ways germs spread. These include touching objects like patient-care equipment. It can also spread by hand and through the air.
Infections that require medical workers to take precautions
Contact precautions are necessary for the prevention of illnesses and the spreading of severe diseases. It can happen by contacting skin wounds, through the nose and eyes and via ingestion. Additional risks you will face involve germs that remain active on surfaces for extended periods. The following infections require contact precautions:
- Coughs, sputum and sneezes could cause respiratory infections.
- Rashes and skin infections are preventable.
- Precautions can stop infections by multidrug-resistant organisms like Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA).
- Prevention of vomiting and diarrhea-causing gastrointestinal infections.
Best practices with patients on contact precautions
You must do whatever you can to minimize contact between patients on contact precautions by doing the following:
- Ensure that each patient has a dedicated equipment bag for patient care.
- The equipment bag must contain a blood pressure cuff, stethoscope, commode and thermometer.
- If that is not possible, disinfect and clean all equipment between uses.
- If contact precaution patients must share rooms with other patients, always draw the privacy curtain.
Further precautions employees must follow
For your own and the patient’s protection, the following precautions are essential:
- Before entering a precaution patient’s room, put on the necessary personal protective equipment.
- Make sure your PPE includes gloves, eye protection, a gown and shoe coverings.
- Avoid touching the patient, objects and any surfaces with gloves or objects that are contaminated.
- If the gloves came into contact with bodily fluids, wash your hands and replace gloves between procedures.
- Only take essential items into the rooms, and do not place personal items on surfaces.
- Make sure visitors wear PPE and discard it before they leave.
- Help patients wash their hands frequently.
- Remove your own PPE before leaving a patient’s room, and wash your hands thoroughly.
- Have a clean paper towel ready to open doors and turn faucets off.
- Keep in mind that frequently touched objects like your pager or cellphone could carry germs.
It is essential for you to practice both standard and contact precautions when you care for sick patients. Never underestimate your own vulnerability, and take the necessary precautions even if you will not be in the room for more than a few seconds.
Despite all your best efforts to protect yourself from infections, you will always face risks. If you become ill due to work-related exposure, you might be entitled to claim benefits from the California workers’ compensation program. The primary benefits include medical expenses and lost wages.