Barrier nursing is a method for administering patient care while preventing the transmission of highly contagious diseases. This is done for two reasons: a patient can be isolated to prevent the spread of disease to others, or isolation is imposed to protect a patient with a compromised immune system.
Barrier nursing entails the wearing of special protective equipment, such as an impermeable gown or a respirator, to prevent the transmission of infectious material. Contagious disease agents such as MRSA are cause for primary isolation. In other cases, known as "reverse isolation," a patient with a weakened immune system, as a result of AIDS or a bone-marrow transplant for example, is not allowed to come into contact with potentially lethal pathogens carried by visitors and nursing staff.