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What are the Center for Disease Control's Standard Precautions for Preventing the Spread of Disease?

Updated on December 16, 2012
The CDC, Center for Disease Control
The CDC, Center for Disease Control | Source

The Standard Precautions are instructions designed by the United States Center for Disease Control to help prevent the spread of disease. The Standard Precautions are taught to all healthcare professionals and people who work with a wide variety of other people, such as teachers and social workers. However, the standard precautions are also important for everybody to follow in their daily life when interacting with strangers and in public areas.

The Standard Precautions apply to all bodily fluids except for sweat. They also apply to all non-intact skin and mucus membranes.

1. Hand washing

Hand washing is absolutely the most important measure that can be taken to prevent the spread of infectious disease. Wash your hands with the hottest water that you can stand. Lather the soap and scrub vigorously for at least 20 seconds. Don't forget to clean between your fingers, the middle of the palm of your hand, under your fingernails, and under any rings. In some settings, you may need to wash your entire forearm up to your elbow.

An open wound or laceration on the leg
An open wound or laceration on the leg | Source

2. Gloves

Gloves act as a protective barrier between you and the contaminant. However, gloves also protect others who may have open wounds from whatever contaminant is on your hands. Anyone exposed to any type of bodily fluid other than sweat should use gloves.

If you are using gloves to care for another person or to clean, be sure to remove them correctly so that you do not contaminate your hands. With one gloved hand, grasp the lower area of the glove on your other hand, near the bottom of your palm. Pull the glove up and inside out to get it off. Now, with your non-gloved hand, slide two fingers under the glove on the opposite hand by the inner part of the wrist. As you remove the glove, turn it inside out. You can then use the second glove to create a pouch for the first one. Discard the gloves in a biohazard trash can.

How to properly remove gloves

3. Clean with a 10% bleach solution

Any surface or area that has been contaminated with bodily fluids should be thoroughly cleaned. Wearing gloves, scrub the area with a solution that is ten percent bleach and ninety percent water.

If another person's bodily fluid comes in contact with your skin, wash the area immediately with soap and hot water. If an open wound is exposed, flush the immediately with hydrogen peroxide or a 10% bleach solution.

Latex gloves are important for preventing the spread of diseases like HIV and Hepatitis

4. High, medium, and low level sanitation

High Level Sanitation involves cleaning surfaces with a product labeled "sterilant" or "disinfectant glutaraldehyde". After cleaning, allow the surface to air-dry. Usually, this is only necessary in research labs, hospitals, or other medical environments.

Medium Level Sanitation requires the use of a 10% bleach solution or a hospital disinfectant labeled "tuberculocidal". This would be necessary in a spa, gym, public bathroom. or other public areas.

Low Level Sanitation requires washing the surface with hot, soapy water and allowing it to air-dry.

More information on Standard Precautions, First Aid, and CPR

Alexander's Care of the Patient in Surgery
Alexander's Care of the Patient in Surgery
A textbook that includes using standard precautions in hospital settings.


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    • stephaniedas profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Das 

      8 years ago from Miami, US

      Thanks for commenting. Bleach was my best friend when I was housetraining my new puppy. He was trained quickly because the 10% bleach solution eliminated the odor of his previous accidents, and he learned to go outside.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      8 years ago

      It's interesting how bleach eliminates most of the bacteria and germs that exist. Thanks for the information here and the education.


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