In response to the AIDS epidemic, Universal Precautions issued by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) issued in the mid 1980’s were designed to protect healthcare workers specifically from blood borne pathogens. These precautions were eventually expanded upon to protect healthcare workers from any potentially infectious microorganisms (i.e. Staphylococcus), resulting the updated term Standard Precautions.
Standard Precautions refers to five guidelines that are relatively straightforward and easily integrated into the clinical audiology setting. The five guidelines are as follows.
1. Wear gloves, masks, eye protection and/or other personal barriers when needed. If performing a procedure that may potentially expose you directly or indirectly to blood, ear drainage, mucous, cerumen, saliva, or any other potentially infectious substance, take necessary precautions.
3. Clean and disinfect surfaces such as tables and armrests after each patient appointment with a disinfectant.
4. Clean and sterilize any reusable instrument that is inserted in the ear canal, contaminated with blood, blood by-products, ear drainage and the like, and/or can penetrate the skin from use or misuse.
5. Dispose of sharp instruments in a Sharp’s Container; everything else may be thrown in the regular waste receptacle although anything with copious amounts of blood, cerumen, drainage and the like should be placed in an impermeable bag (i.e. Biohazard bag) and then in the regular trash.
For more in-depth information on implementing a comprehensive infection control plan, check out Infection Control in the Audiology Clinic by Bankaitis and Kemp.