Airborne Precautions

Use Airborne Precautions, in addition to Standard Precautions, for patients known or suspected to be infected with microorganisms transmitted by airborne droplet nuclei (small-particle residue -5 µm or smaller in size- of evaporated droplets containing microorganisms that remain suspended in the air and that can be dispersed widely by air currents within a room or over a long distance).

A. Patient Placement
Place the patient in a private room that has 1) monitored negative air pressure, 2) 6 to 12 air changes per hour, and 3) appropriate discharge of air outdoors or monitored high-efficiency filtration of room air before the air is circulated to other areas in the hospital. Keep the room door closed and the patient in the room. When a private room is not available, place the patient in a room with a patient who has active infection with the same microorganism, unless otherwise recommended, but with no other infection. When a private room is not available and cohorting is not desirable, consultation with infection control professionals is advised before patient placement.

B. Respiratory Protection
Wear respiratory protection (N95 respirator) when entering the room of a patient with known or suspected infectious pulmonary tuberculosis. Susceptible persons should not enter the room of patients known or suspected to have measles (rubeola) or varicella (chickenpox) if other immune caregivers are available. If susceptible persons must enter the room of a patient known or suspected to have measles (rubeola) or varicella, they should wear respiratory protection (N95 respirator). Persons immune to measles (rubeola) or varicella need not wear respiratory protection.

C. Patient Transport
Limit the movement and transport of the patient from the room to essential purposes only if transport or movement is necessary; minimize patient dispersal of droplet nuclei by placing a surgical mask on the patient, if possible.

D. Additional Precautions for Preventing Transmission of Tuberculosis
Consult CDC “Guidelines for Preventing the Transmission of Tuberculosis in Health-Care Facilities” for additional prevention strategies.

Garner JS, Hospital Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee. Guideline for isolation precautions in hospitals. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 1996; 17:53-80, and Am J Infect Control 1996; 24:24-52.