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Transmission-Based Precautions: Droplet

Transmission-based precautions help prevent the spread of certain infections. Droplet precautions are one type of transmission-based precaution. Always use droplet precautions in addition to standard precautions.

When to use droplet precautions

Some germs are carried in moist droplets. These drops travel a short distance (about 3 feet) when an infected person coughs, talks, or sneezes. The drops also contaminate objects and surfaces they fall on. Use droplet precautions with patients known or suspected to have certain infections as outlined by your facility, including:

  • Pertussis (whooping cough)

  • Neisseria meningitidis

  • Haemophilus influenza type B

  • Influenza

  • Scarlet fever

  • Mumps

  • Rubella (German measles)

  • Rhinovirus

  • Adenovirus

  • Coronaviruses

How to use droplet precautions

The patient should be placed in a private room with a private bathroom. If this can’t be done, check with your facility’s infection control department. Also:

  • Wear a mask when within 3 feet of the patient. Or you may wear a mask at all times when in the patient’s room. Follow your facility’s guidelines.

  • Keep other patients at least 3 feet away from the infected patient.

  • Have family members and other visitors wear masks and other appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).

  • Transport the patient only when you must. Have the patient wear a surgical mask. Alert the receiving department.

Healthcare provider handing woman gloves, mask, gown, and hair covering in hospital hallway.

Preventing contamination

  • Remove your gloves and other PPE before leaving the room. Wash your hands well before leaving.

  • Make sure the patient has their own patient care equipment (including stethoscope, blood pressure cuff, thermometer, and commode). If an item must be shared, clean it with disinfectant between patients.

  • Encourage the patient, family members, and other visitors to cover their mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing and to use tissues. Remind them to dispose of used tissues in the correct way.

  • If you touch an object in the room with your gloves, change them before providing care to any patient.

  • Don't touch your mouth, nose, or eyes during patient care.

Online Medical Reviewer: Eric Perez MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Maryann Foley RN BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Turley Jr PA-C
Date Last Reviewed: 8/1/2021
© 2000-2024 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.