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Universal Precautions

Universal Precautions Pronunciation: Universal Precautions (yoo-ni-vur-suhl pre-kaw-shuhns)

Definition: Universal precautions refer to a set of protocols designed to prevent the transmission of bloodborne pathogens when providing care or treatment. These protocols involve treating all blood and certain bodily fluids as if they were infectious.

What are Universal Precautions?


Universal precautions are infection control measures that require the same basic hygiene practices to be used for all patients, regardless of their infection status. They are used to safeguard health workers and patients from potential infections, including HIV, hepatitis B and C, and other bloodborne pathogens.

Key Facts about Universal Precautions:

  • Universal precautions protect against bloodborne pathogens and are part of the standard health and safety regulations in healthcare environments.
  • They emphasize hand hygiene, the use of personal protective equipment, safe injection practices, safe handling of potentially contaminated equipment, and proper disposal of medical waste.
  • Adherence to universal precautions is critical to the safety and health of both patients and healthcare workers.

Universal Precautions in Medical Practice

How to follow Universal Precautions?

To follow universal precautions, healthcare providers should:

  • Wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves, masks, and gowns, when there is potential for contact with blood or body fluids.
  • Practice good hand hygiene, washing hands thoroughly with soap and water before and after patient contact, and after removing PPE.
  • Dispose of sharps (e.g., needles, scalpel blades) properly in designated containers.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and medical equipment properly.

Frequently Asked Questions About Universal Precautions

Why are Universal Precautions important?

Universal precautions are important because they help prevent the spread of infectious diseases in healthcare settings. They protect healthcare workers from potential exposure to bloodborne pathogens and also ensure the safety of patients.

When should Universal Precautions be used?

Universal precautions should be used at all times in healthcare settings, regardless of the known or suspected infection status of a patient. They are particularly important when handling blood, bodily fluids, non-intact skin, and mucous membranes.


  1. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). (n.d.). Bloodborne Pathogens and Needlestick Prevention. Retrieved August 2, 2023, from