Infection prevention and control guidelines

5. Levels of precaution

Overview – Levels of precaution

      1. Overview – Levels of precaution

Last revised: 17 Jun 2024

Overview – Levels of precaution

The blood and body substances of all patients must be considered infectious at all times, and must be managed as though infectious.

Standard precautions are work practices that consistently achieve a basic level of infection prevention and control.

Standard precautions must be used by all staff involved in patient care or who may have contact with blood or other body substances, secretions and excretions (except sweat), including through contact with mucous membranes and non-intact skin, regardless of the known or perceived infection status of the patient.

Transmission-based precautions are additional precautions specific to a known or suspected infection or during an outbreak, according to the relevant route(s) of transmission (contact, droplet or airborne).  Droplet and airborne modes of transmission are closely interrelated because the relevant infectious matter represents a continuum from large droplets to small particles. Infection prevention and control strategies for these modes overlap substantially. While some experts consider them as one mode of transmission, this guideline retains the distinction between droplet and airborne transmission for consistency with current national guidelines. They are used with standard precautions to provide additional barriers between practice staff at risk and the infected patient.

Use transmission-based precautions (in addition to standard precautions) when a patient is known or suspected to be infected or colonised with microorganisms that cannot be contained by standard precautions alone (eg microorganisms causing gastroenteritis, measles, or influenza).