Universal Precautions

"Universal Precautions" what does this mean?

"Universal precautions" are an approach to infection control. According to the concept of universal precautions, all human blood and certain human body fluids are treated as if known to be infectious for HIV, and other bloodborne pathogens.This method of infection control came about because people with bloodborne infectious diseases are difficult to identify and, in many cases, may not show symptoms up to 10 years after exposure or even lab evidence of infection for several months after exposure, although they may still transmit the virus to others.

What does "universal precautions" look like to me in the school?

For the most part, the use of universal precautions will consist of the use of gloves when handling blood or body secretions. Gloves should be worn any time a provider (that's you):

  • has an open lesion on the hands;
  • handles contaminated disposable items such as tissues, diapers, clothing;
  • has any hand contact with blood or body fluids
  • is disinfecting surfaces that may have had blood and body fluid exposure
  • especially when providing clean up of body fluid spills such as vomit, blood, feces, urine, and when rendering first aid and diapering assistance.

Remember to remove your soiled gloves and wash your hands before touching any cabinets, doorknobs, or items other people may come in contact with.

What else can I do to protect myself from contracting infectious diseases at work?

Other personal protection:

  • avoid rubbing or touching your eyes,
  • refrain from kissing or being kissed, and
  • use your own personal care items such as drinking glasses and utensils (unless shared items are properly cleaned). Outside of your work site use your own personal care items such as razors and toothbrushes

The most important protection you can use for preventing the spread of communicable diseases is to wash your hands especially

  • before drinking or eating,
  • before handling clean utensils, equipment or food,
  • after going to the bathroom,
  • after contact with any body secretions,
  • after handling any soiled diapers, garments or equipment,
  • after caring for children, especially those with any body secretion discharges, and
  • always wash your hands before applying and after the removal of gloves.

Proper hand washing should consist of:

  • Use of soap or other disinfectant if away from campus.
  • Friction
  • Use of warm running water
  • Drying thoroughly to prevent chapping

Other Protection that may be needed:

  • In rare instances you may need to use a protective mouth shield if you are providing CPR or Rescue Breathing to someone.
  • You may need an eye protector (like plastic glasses) if there is blood spurting from a wound.
  • These protective devices are available in the Mercer Island School District in the nurse's offices. Please contact your school nurse if you would need assistance in locating these items in your building.

Other important things to consider:

  • Sharps should be disposed of in appropriate labeled containers.
  • Avoid the direct handling of any sharp objects or broken glass.
  • Items that have blood, vomit, or other body fluids on them should not be put into the regular trash, where they may contaminate others. This includes used gloves, tissues, gauze, etc. Put them in a plastic bag and bring them to the health room, for proper disposal in a biohazard bag. These red bags are found in the health room in white, covered trash cans.