Isolation Guidelines

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  • Setting Up an Isolation Room


    • To separate an infected or colonized person from others during the period of communicability.
    • To prevent direct and indirect transmission of the infectious agent.


    • Outside the room
      •  A stocked isolation cart
      •  Adequately stocked dispenser of antiseptic soap or alcohol hand gel.
      •  Isolation door sign
    • Inside the room          
      • A stocked isolation cart (in University Hospital)
      • Dirty linen hamper stand with linen bag
      • Use regular plastic trash can liner and regular trash can for all isolated patients.
      • Wall-mounted or portable needle disposal container for used needles/syringes. Regulated medical waste container for items visibly contaminated with blood or body fluids.
      • Adequately stocked paper towel dispenser
      • Adequately stocked soap dispenser and alcohol hand gel dispenser 
      • Thermometer with disposable probe covers
      • Blood pressure cuff and stethoscope
      • Tourniquet and Vacutainer holder

    Special instructions

    • This manual contains valuable information on "Responsibilities for Carrying Out Isolation/Precautions"; this section should be referred to when placing patients on Isolation/Precautions of any kind.
    • If there is a shortage of private or semi-private rooms to adequately isolate a patient, Infection Prevention should be notified at (601) 984-2188 and will lend assistance.
    • Isolation can generate large volumes of regular trash; large (33-gallon) trash cans are available from Environmental Services for items not visibly contaminated with blood or body fluids (i.e., gowns, gloves, masks and miscellaneous trash).
    • It is very important to identify the patient's door and charts.
      •  Do not write the patient's disease or diagnosis on the isolation  door sign.
      •  The patient’s medical record chart should not be taken into the patient’s room due the risk of contamination of the chart.
    • The furniture and other surfaces within an isolated patient's room are considered contaminated. In a semi-private room, anything on the isolated patient's side of the room divider (curtain) is considered contaminated.
    • Items that cannot be disinfected or are not disposable should remain outside the room whenever possible. Disposable items are to be used whenever available.
    • For patients on Contact or Contact and Droplet Precautions, only 24 hours' worth of supplies essential for a patient’s care should be kept in the patient’s room. Supplies in the patient’s room should be sent with the patient if possible if he/she is transferred to another unit. Upon discharge, all disposable supplies must be discarded with the exception of the contents of an unopened, intact box of supplies; although the outside of the box is considered contaminated, the contents are clean. The contents may therefore be used if they are removed from the box in a manner in which they will not become contaminated.
    • For patients on Contact or Contact and Droplet Precautions, any contaminated street clothes should be sealed in a plastic bag and sent home with the family. Give them instructions to wash with detergent and hot water or to dry-clean them. If the family is not present, keep clothes in a bag in the room with the patient.
    • Patient's charts should be kept outside of an isolated patient's room to prevent contact with other objects that may be contaminated with infective material. When transporting a patient, keep the chart under the stretcher, in a chair holder, or in a plastic bag.  The chart should be removed from the plastic bag in a manner so as not to contaminate it.  If pages have been contaminated, see "Handling Contaminated Medical Records."
    • Isolation carts, drawers, and supply carts outside the rooms are clean areas and should never be touched or gone into with contaminated hands or gloves.
    • Patients who have been placed on Airborne or Airborne and Contact Precautions require negative-pressure airflow to prevent airborne spread of their infection.
    • It is important to help patients and their families to understand their responsibility in carrying out correct isolation techniques! For example, the patient on Airborne or Droplet Precautions should be instructed to cover mouth with a tissue when coughing, dispose of it into the appropriate receptacle and wash hands immediately afterward. Give patient and family the patient information sheet if appropriate (e.g., MRSA, VRE). The Infection Prevention RNs can be consulted for assistance with this, if necessary.


    • Attach the appropriate isolation door signs to the outside of the patient's room door or place in the sign holder if available.
    • Affix smaller matching isolation labels to the outside of the patient's hospital chart jacket. When isolation has been ordered for a patient, the order must be entered into the Invision/SMS computer system. This insures that the isolation category will appear on transmittal forms and other appropriate printouts.
    • If necessary, obtain an isolation cart and place it just outside the door to the patient's room.
    • Obtain a large 33-gallon trash can for disposal of personal protective equipment.  This can be placed just inside or just outside the door to isolation room, depending on space limitations.
    • Check the supply of alcohol hand disinfectant, paper towels and soap in dispenser at the sinks inside and outside the patient's room and notify the unit housekeeper if it needs to be replenished.
    • Stock isolated patient's room with a thermometer, a blood pressure cuff, stethoscope, a tourniquet, vacutainer holder and alcohol preps should also be kept in the room.
    • Explain the necessary precautions to the isolated patient.