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Universal Precautions


Updated September 28, 2006

The CDC defines universal precautions as:
    "a set of precautions designed to prevent transmission of HIV, hepatitis B virus (HBV), and other bloodborne pathogens when providing first aid or health care. Under universal precautions, blood and certain body fluids of all patients are considered potentially infectious for HIV, HBV and other bloodborne pathogens"
Universal precautions apply to:
  • blood
  • bodily fluids containing visible blood
  • semen
  • vaginal fluid
  • cerebrospinal
  • synovial, pleural, peritoneal, pericardial, and amniotic fluids
  • needles, scalpels and other sharp instruments

Universal precautions are achieved by using protective barriers that include:

  • gloves
  • gowns
  • protective eyewear
  • aprons

Universal precautions do not apply to:

  • feces
  • nasal
  • secretions
  • sputum
  • sweat
  • tears
  • urine
  • vomitus

Source: Centers for Disease Control and prevention, 2006.

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