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Standard precautions integrate and expand the elements of the previously adopted universal precautions and are designed to protect both health-care workers and patients. Standard precautions apply to contact with blood, all body fluids, secretions, and excretions except sweat, nonintact skin, and mucous membranes. Standard precautions must be used in the care of all patients, regardless of their infection status.


In the case of a known transmissible infection, additional precautions known as expanded or transmission-based precautions are recommended. These are used to interrupt the spread of diseases that are transmitted by airborne, droplet, or contact transmission. Most bedside procedures incorporate principles of standard precautions.


Standard Precautions Key Components


  • Handwashing before and after patient contact.
  • Gloves for contact with blood, body fluids, secretion, contaminated items, mucous membranes, and nonintact skin.
  • Personal protection equipment (masks, goggles, face masks) when contact with blood and body fluids is likely.
  • Gowns for blood or body fluid contact and to prevent soiling of clothing.
  • Sharps precautions avoid recapping used needles, avoid bending, breaking, or manipulating used needles by hand, and place used sharps in puncture-resistant containers. Use self-shielding needle devices whenever possible.


There is a growing concern over latex exposure in the hospital. Certain pediatric populations are at higher risk for latex allergies such as in spina bifida. Many hospitals are converting to a latex-free environment. Latex-free equipment is recommended when available in the neonatal unit.

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