Airborne Precautions

Precautions are things we do to keep germs from spreading to other people in the hospital.

Airborne precautions are used when you have germs in your lungs or throat, such as chicken pox, tuberculosis, or measles.

Airborne germs are spread by tiny drops released in the air when you talk, sneeze, or cough.

These germs are not usually a problem for healthy people, but they can make sick people even sicker.

Airborne precautions in the hospital

A blue sign will be on the door.

  • The sign helps staff and visitors know what personal protective equipment (gown, gloves, mask, etc.) they should wear.

Personal protective equipment helps:

  • Protect you so you do not get germs from staff and visitors
  • Protect staff and visitors so they do not get the germs you have

You will have your own room.

  • You will have a special room called a "negative air pressure room."
    • A negative air pressire room is designed so that air will flow into your room but not our of your room
  • The door to your room will be kept shut so the germs do not travel into the hallway.

Leave your room only when you have to, such as when you need to go for an x-ray or other tests.

  • Wear a mask over your mouth and nose when you leave your room.
  • Staff and visitors will wear a special kind of mask called an "N-95 respirator" or "PAPR" when they are in your room so that they do not breathe in the germs.

The most important step to stop the spread of germs is to wash your hands!

Wash your hands:

  • After using the bathroom
  • Before eating
  • Before leaving your room

Staff will wash their hands and/or use an alcohol-based hand cleaner before and after caring for you.

What you should do at home

  • Wash your hands after using the bathroom and before eating.
  • You can use common household cleaning products or disinfectants to clean commonly touched surfaces.
Last reviewed: 
July 2017

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