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College Resource Center : Health Careers : Readings in Subject Area : Universal Precautions

Universal Precautions

  1. Barrier protection should be used at all times to prevent skin and mucous membrane contamination with blood, body fluids containing visible blood, or other body fluids (cerebrospinal, synovial, pleural, peritoneal, pericardial, and amniotic fluids, semen and vaginal secretions).

    Barrier protection should be used with ALL tissues.

    The type of barrier protection used should be appropriate for the type of procedures being performed and the type of exposure anticipated. Examples of barrier protection include disposable lab coats, gloves, and eye and face protection.

  2. Gloves are to be worn when there is potential for hand or skin contact with blood, other potentially infectious material, or items and surfaces contaminated with these materials.

  3. Wear face protection (face shield) during procedures that are likely to generate droplets of blood or body fluid to prevent exposure to mucous membranes of the mouth, nose, and eyes.

  4. Wear protective body clothing (disposable laboratory coats, Tyvek) when there is a potential for splashing of blood or body fluids.

  5. Wash hands or other skin surfaces thoroughly and immediately if contaminated with blood, body fluids containing visible blood, or other body fluids to which universal precautions apply.

  6. Wash hands immediately after gloves are removed.

  7. Avoid accidental injuries that can be caused by needles, scalpel blades, laboratory instruments, etc., when performing procedures, cleaning instruments, handling sharp instruments, and disposing of used needles, pipettes, etc.

  8. Used needles, disposable syringes, scalpel blades, pipettes, and other sharp items are to be placed in puncture-resistant containers marked with a biohazard symbol for disposal.

Source: National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Universal Precautions, 22 December 1998, (5 October 2000).

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