Standard Precautions

In 1987, the CDC published guidelines known as Universal Precautions, to reduce the risk of HBV transmission in clinical laboratories and blood banks. In 1996, these safety recommendations became known as Standard Precautions. These precautions require

Figure 4-7 A, Various bench-top pipette discard containers. B, Bench-top serologic pipette discard container. (Courtesy Allegiance Healthcare Corp., McGaw Park, 111.)

that blood and body fluids from every patient be treated as potentially infectious. The essentials of Standard Precautions and safe laboratory work practices are as follows:

  • Do not eat, drink, smoke, or apply cosmetics (including lip balm).
  • Do not insert or remove contact lenses.
  • Do not bite nails or chew on pens.
  • Do not mouth-pipette.
  • Limit access to the laboratory to trained personnel only.
  • Assume all patients are infectious for HIV or other blood-borne pathogens.
  • Use appropriate barrier precautions to prevent skin and mucous membrane exposure, including wearing gloves at all times and masks, goggles, gowns, or aprons if there is a risk of splashes or droplet formation.
  • Thoroughly wash hands and other skin surfaces after gloves are removed and immediately after any contamination.

Figure 4-8 Cartons for broken glass. (Courtesy Lab Safety Supply Inc., Janesville, Wis.)

Figure 4-9 Sharps containers. (Courtesy Lab Safely Supply Inc., Janesville, Wis.)

• Take special care to avoid injuries with sharp objects such as needles and scalpels.

The CDC's Standard Precautions should be followed for handling blood and body fluids, including all secretions and excretions (e.g., serum, semen, all sterile body fluids, saliva from dental procedures, and vaginal secretions) submitted to the microbiology laboratory. Standard Precautions do not apply to feces, nasal secretions, saliva (except in dental procedures), sputum, sweat, tears, urine, or vomitus unless they are grossly bloody. The consistent practice of Standard Precautions by health care workers handling all patient material will lessen the risks associated with such specimens. Mouth pipetting is strictly prohibited. Mechanical devices must be used for drawing all liquids into pipettes. Eating, drinking, smoking, and applying cosmetics are strictly forbidden in work areas. Food and drink must be stored in refrigerators in areas separate from the work area. All personnel should wash their hands with soap and water after removing gloves, after handling infectious material, and before leaving the laboratory area. In addition, it is good practice to store sera collected periodically from all health care workers so that, in the event of an accident, a seroconversion (acquisition of antibodies to an infectious agent) can be documented (see Chapter 10).

All health care workers should follow Standard Precautions whether working inside or outside the laboratory. When collecting specimens outside the laboratory, individuals should follow these guidelines:

  • Wear gloves and a laboratory coat.
  • Deal carefully with needles and lancets.
  • Discard sharps in an appropriate puncture-resistant container.
  • Never recap needles by hand; if necessary, special devices should be available for resheath-ing needles.

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Bacterial Vaginosis Facts

Bacterial Vaginosis Facts

This fact sheet is designed to provide you with information on Bacterial Vaginosis. Bacterial vaginosis is an abnormal vaginal condition that is characterized by vaginal discharge and results from an overgrowth of atypical bacteria in the vagina.

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