1.2.7 Routine/Standard Practices/Precautions

Routine or standard precautions refers to the system of infection prevention and control practices recommended by the Public Health Agency of Canada to be used with all clients/patients/residents during all care to prevent and control transmission of microorganisms in all health care settings (Public Health Ontario, 2012).

Routine practices are based on the premise that all clients/patients/residents are potentially infectious, even when asymptomatic, and that the same safe standards of practice should be used routinely with all clients/patients/residents to prevent exposure to blood, body fluids, secretions, excretions, mucous membranes, non-intact skin or soiled items and to prevent the spread of microorganisms.

Handwashing is the first step in all patient care procedures in health care facilities. After washing your hands, you will be ready to don (put on) your appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), which includes the following items:

  • Gloves. Procedure and sterile gloves are supplied in five sizes to fit most hands, and are supplied in boxes of many for procedure gloves, and in sterile packages of one or a pair for the sterile gloves. Gloves are worn when you are expecting potential contact with body fluids or contaminants, or during care to those in isolation or under precautions. Gloves are to be removed and discarded after care on one patient or one patient task only.
  • Gowns. Gowns are supplied in three sizes, and can be made of a paper type of material or cloth. Gowns are to be worn when there is a possibility of uniform/clothing being contaminated or during isolations/precautions, and are discarded if paper or washed if cloth.
  • Masks. Masks are worn during anticipated respiratory contact to prevent breathing in of droplets or air transmitted pathogens. Masks are thrown out after each use (see your facility policy for more information).
  • Shields/goggles. Face shields or goggles are worn to protect the eyes from body fluids and contaminants. They are cleaned or discarded after each use (see your facility policy).
  • Shoe covers. Shoe covers are worn to protect footwear from contamination. They are made from paper-type material and are thrown away after use. They are put on first when donning and taken off first when doffing.
  • Hair and beard covers. Hair covers are worn to protect the head, hair and beard from contaminants, or to protect a sterile field from contamination from hair. These are placed on after the mask and taken off before the mask.

Key Takeaway

You will need to follow your employer’s policies regarding PPE use.

Hands are always washed prior to putting PPE on and after removing PPE. It is important that you follow the proper handwashing procedure each and every time. Please take a moment and review the steps of handwashing presented in this Public Health Ontario infographic.

After watching the following video, answer the questions below regarding the process of washing your hands.

Note: No transcript is available for this video, as there is no speaking.

Practice Makes Perfect

Try to answer these questions about hand hygiene:


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