Universal precautions include washing hands with soap or alcohol-based hand rubs, not reusing syringes or single-dose containers, cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, and wearing gloves, masks and gowns, recommends the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health care providers should take these precautions regardless of the infection status of any patient.
All body fluids, mucous membranes, blood and nonintact skin can transmit infections, warns the CDC. Health care providers must prevent and stay aware of any potential, direct or indirect contact with these substances.
Universal precautions are also known as standard precautions, as reported by the CDC. Providers must take extra steps, known as transmission-based precautions, when working with patients with known infections.