Universal Precautions

Universal precautions refers to the practice, in medicine, of avoiding contact with patients’ bodily fluids, by means of the wearing of nonporous articles such as medical gloves, goggles, and face shields. The practice was introduced in 1985–88. [1][2] In 1987, the practice of universal precautions was adjusted by a set of rules known as body substance isolation. In 1996, both practices were replaced by the latest approach known as standard precautions (health care). Nowadays and in isolation, practice of universal precautions has historical significance.

Under universal precautions all patients were considered to be possible carriers of blood-borne pathogens. The guideline recommended wearing gloves when collecting or handling blood and body fluids contaminated with blood, wearing face shields when there was danger of blood splashing on mucous membranes and disposing of all needles and sharp objects in puncture-resistant containers.

Universal precautions were designed for doctors, nurses, patients, and health care support workers who were required to come into contact with patients or bodily fluids. This included staff and others who might not come into direct contact with patients.

Pathogens fall into two broad categories, bloodborne (carried in the body fluids) and airborne.

Protective clothing included but was not limited to:

  • Barrier gowns
  • Gloves
  • Eyewear (goggles or glasses)
  • Face shields

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