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Contact Precautions

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 5, 2023.

Why do I need contact precautions?

Contact precautions prevent the spread of bacteria, parasites, and viruses from one person to another. The spread of germs can occur when touching an infected person and their dirty items, such as clothing, and surfaces. You may need contact precautions if you have diarrhea, draining wounds, a rash, or lice. You may also need contact precautions if you have an ostomy or a bag that collects your urine or bowel movements.

What do I need to know about contact precautions in the hospital?

Healthcare providers will place a sign on your door to explain contact precautions to visitors:

  • Healthcare providers and visitors will wear gowns and gloves when they enter your room. They will also wash their hands before they leave your room.
  • Healthcare providers will leave items such as a blood pressure cuff or stethoscope in your room. The items will be used only for your care.
  • You may not be not be able to leave your room unless urgent tests are needed. You will be able to leave your room once you have a physician's order.

What do I need to know about contact precautions at home?

You and those in your home need to follow the same hospital precautions along with those below:

  • Wear gloves and a gown to handle dirty items and laundry, and while cleaning.
  • Wash hands often. Scrub with soap and warm water. Wash hands after gloves are removed and after surfaces and dirty items are touched.
  • Use a bleach-based cleaner. You can also create a cleaning solution by mixing 1 part bleach to 10 parts water.
  • Clean surfaces daily. Surfaces include the toilet, the area around the toilet, the sink, the area around the sink, and faucets. The toilet should be cleaned after each use if you have infectious diarrhea. Items that you use often should be cleaned daily, such as phones, doorknobs, and remote controls. Clean the shower or bathtub after each use.
  • Wash dishes and silverware in a dishwasher or in hot water. Do not share unwashed dishes or silverware with anyone.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.