Standard and Transmission-Based Precautions and Signage

Successful infection prevention and control involves routinely using basic infection prevention and control strategies, such as hand hygiene; personal protective equipment; aseptic technique; respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette; environmental cleaning; and, safe handling and disposal of sharps, waste and linen, to minimise infection risk (standard precautions), in addition to employing specific strategies designed to interrupt the transmission of infection (transmission-based precautions).

Standard and transmission-based precautions

Standard precautions are the primary strategy for minimising the transmission of healthcare-associated infections. Standard precautions must be used when providing care to all patients, regardless of whether they have an infection or not. Standard precautions involve:

  • Effective hand hygiene
  • Use of personal protective equipment to protect against blood and body fluid exposure
  • Practising respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette
  • Aseptic technique
  • Routine environmental cleaning
  • Appropriate reprocessing of reusable medical devices
  • Safe handling and use of sharps
  • Linen and waste management

In certain situations, the use of standard precautions alone may not be enough to limit the spread of infection. When this occurs, transmission-based precautions are required. There are three types of transmission-based precautions: contact, droplet and airborne precautions. One or more types of transmission-based precautions may be required, depending on how an infection is spread between people.

There are different personal protective equipment and patient placement requirements for standard precautions and transmission-based precautions. The table below provides a general overview of these requirements by precaution type. A local risk assessment should always be undertaken to determine the most appropriate personal protective equipment and patient placement for the delivery of care.

PPE and patient placement requirements for transmission-based precautions

Notes:

Essential component of transmission-based precautions:

  • ♣ Surgical mask required if infectious agent located in sputum

  • ☆ Standard Precaution (as required)—gloves & gowns to be worn when there is potential of contact with blood or body substances. Mouth and eye protection to be worn when there is potential of exposure to splashes or sprays to mucosa

  • * Visitors should be given instruction about correct procedures when transmission-based precautions are applied and given appropriate resources to support them in meeting these requirements

  • ^ Droplets can contaminate horizontal surfaces close to the source patient, and the hands of healthcare workers can become contaminated through contact with those surfaces. For this reason consideration should be given to the need for additional personal protective equipment (PPE)

  • # For vaccine preventable disease, where possible, only staff and visitors who have confirmed immunity (evidenced by serological immunity or vaccination history) to the specific infectious agent should enter the room, see Section 4.2.1 for further information. While appropriate PPE should be worn by all staff and visitors, those with unknown immunity or non-immune healthcare workers should be extra vigilant.

Source: Australian Guidelines for the Prevention and Control of Infection in Healthcare (2019)

Infection control signage

It is important to use consistent infection control signage to communicate infection risk and the precautions required to minimise this risk. The Commission has developed a suite of standardised signs to increase the awareness of healthcare workers, patients and visitors of the necessary precautions to be applied for all patients (Standard Precautions), and for those patients who require Transmission-based Precautions, due to their known or suspected diagnosis.

The signage is available in several formats, using both pictures and icons.

Approach 1

This approach combines both standard precautions and transmission based precautions into a single poster. Photographic images are used to support the special precautions.

Approach 2

Approach 2 is the same as Approach 1, but using symbols instead of photographic images.

Approach 3

This approach presents standard precautions and transmission-based precautions in separate posters. This approach allows more room for focusing on the precautions, including supporting imagery for the standard precautions.

Approach 4

Approach 4 is the same as Approach 3, but using symbols instead of photographic images.

2012
Poster or graphic

2012
Poster or graphic

Approach 1

This approach combines both standard precautions and transmission based precautions into a single poster. Photographic images are used to support the special precautions.

Approach 2

Approach 2 is the same as Approach 1, but using symbols instead of photographic images.

Approach 3

This approach presents standard precautions and transmission-based precautions in separate posters. This approach allows more room for focusing on the precautions, including supporting imagery for the standard precautions.

Approach 4

Approach 4 is the same as Approach 3, but using symbols instead of photographic images.

2012
Poster or graphic

2012
Poster or graphic

Combined precautions – standard, contact and droplet

This poster outlines the steps for putting on, and taking off, personal protective equipment (PPE) when implementing combined contact and droplet precautions, in addition to standard precautions. Examples of situations where this combination of precautions is required include for patients with acute respiratory tract infection, with unknown aetiology (i.e. low risk of transmission of COVID-19); seasonal influenza; and, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

Combined precautions – standard, airborne and contact

This poster provides a summary of the steps involved in putting on and removing personal protective equipment (PPE) when combined airborne and contact precautions are required in addition to standard precautions. Examples of situations where this combination of precautions is required include for patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, chickenpox, measles and disseminated shingles.

Standardised signs - with state and territory co-branding

Most jurisdictions have also co-badged signage available.

ACT

Download the full set of standardised signs with Canberra Hospitals and Health Services co-branding:

 

QLD

Download the full set of standardised signs with Queensland Government co-branding:

WA

Download the full set of standardised signs with Government of Western Australia Department of Health co-branding:

ACT

Download the full set of standardised signs with Canberra Hospitals and Health Services co-branding:

 

QLD

Download the full set of standardised signs with Queensland Government co-branding:

WA

Download the full set of standardised signs with Government of Western Australia Department of Health co-branding: