18. Universal Precautions
Students in the Emergency Department are at risk for exposure to blood borne pathogens and infectious diseases. All bodily substances should be considered potentially infectious. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is readily available in the ED and should be used at any time where possible exposure to blood borne pathogens. The minimum recommended PPE includes:
Gloves: Disposable gloves should be worn BEFORE initiating patient care when there is any risk of exposure to bodily substances. This includes any invasive procedures ( e.g. starting IVs). Some procedures require sterile gloves as well. When gloves have been contaminated, they should be removed and properly disposed of as soon as possible. This is mandatory to prevent transmission to other patients and/or equipment. Always wash hands after gloves have been removed. For students with latex allergies, alternative gloves are available.
Masks and Protective Eyewear: Masks and protective eyewear should be worn when there is any risk of blood or other bodily fluids splashing or spattering. This includes intubation, childbirth, trauma patients, open fractures, etc. Both patients and health care workers should wear masks when there is a potential for airborne transmission of disease. Standard corrective eyeglasses are NOT sufficient protection.
Gowns: Gowns should be worn when there is any risk of blood or other bodily fluids splashing or spattering. This includes intubation, childbirth, trauma patients, open fractures, etc.
Special consideration: Trauma patients: When treating any trauma patient when there is any risk of exposure to bodily substances, gloves, gown, mask and protective eyewear MUST be worn. All of the above must be worn if the student is to enter within the "red lines" of the trauma room.
Hand Washing: Hand washing is mandatory before and after any patient contact. All students must wash their hands after eating or using the restroom facilities.
Any student who is exposed to a patient's bodily fluids should immediately decontaminate themselves and report the incident to their preceptor.