Introduction to universal precautions
Universal precautions are also called as the standard precautions and are widely practiced in the health care system.
These are the precautions used to avoid direct contact of health professionals with the bodily fluids of the patients coming to the hospital. Body fluids include blood and its all products, saliva, urine, semen, breast milk, lymph, amniotic fluid, bile, gastric fluid, and others.
Importance of universal precautions
Health professionals including the doctors, nurses, laboratory workers, housekeeping and all paramedics are at a greater risk of acquiring hospital infections from the patients while handling with the body fluids of these patients.
A number of HIV, Hep B and C, malaria, tuberculosis, salmonella, and many other serious infectious diseases have been seen to be increased in health care providers mainly because of the carelessness done by them while working in hospitals.
To help these health care providers, it is mandatory for them to follow the universal precautions during their working hours. These precautions are necessary to follow regardless of any situation.
History of standard precautions
Standard or universal health precautions started to be practiced in the 80s because of the same reason mentioned above. A lot of nurses and doctors were bringing diagnosed with infectious diseases and it became necessary to follow the health precautions since then.
Now we will go through all the universal precautions one by one and explain them for better understanding and easy following.
- Use Barrier Protection
This means the health care provider whoever he is, has to cover the open wounds before manipulating with them. This also applies to emergency situations where these things are often forgotten and then is the time when people get infected and transfer the infections to others.
- Wear Gloves
It is important for all the doctors and paramedics to wear nonporous substance like gloves before handling any bodily fluids of the patients. This reduces the chances of infection to a great level.
- Wear a face mask or a gown
Wearing a face mask and the gown are also one of the important universal precautions must on a health professional to avoid the droplet infections through a mask and any other infection by the help of gown over your own scrubs.
- Important Cautions
Special care and caution have been advised to avoid any hazardous incidence, especially while handling sharp objects like scissors, razors, needles, etc.
- Discard contaminated material
Contaminated material is the one used by the patient or on the patient. This includes used syringes, needles, sample bottles, cotton swabs, sponges, bandages with blood and body fluids, gowns and sheets. All such materials must ideally be discarded as soon as they are used and there is a proper way of discarding such material.
Disinfection of the area where any sort of examination, surgery, and sampling is done on the patient is very important. Proper cleaning ensures the killing of infectious agents and prevents the spread of infection.
- Wash hands and clothes
Washing of hands and clothing is very important after your work shift is over. Washing or sanitizing hand is one of the most important universal precautions.