CONTACT PRECAUTIONS or SPECIAL ORGANISM PRECAUTIONS (SOP)
In addition to Standard Precautions, Special Organisms Precautions or better known as Contact Precautions are initiated and maintained to interrupt the transmission of epidemiologically significant microorganisms known to be spread by contact. These precautions are intended to reduce the colony count of bacteria on horizontal surfaces and in the immediate vicinity of the patient.
Special Organism Precautions (SOP) will be instituted on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of the Infection Control staff, Infectious Disease staff and/or Medical or Nursing staff. Instances in which special organism precautions apply are as follows:
• When a patient is colonized and/or infected with multiple drug-resistant organisms, or organisms that are not treatable with the usual antibiotics, i.e., vancomycin-resistant enterococcus (VRE), multi-drug resistant gram-negative rods, etc.
• When a particular organism is identified as being potentially hazardous because of its pathogenicity, virulence, or epidemiologic characteristics. e.g. rotavirus, Salmonella sp., Shigella sp . etc.
• For other organisms, these procedures may be instituted or modified at the discretion of IC staff (e.g. smallpox/vaccinia, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
I. POLICY for patients with diseases requiring ONLY the institution of Special Organism Precautions/Contact Precautions. NOTE: Infection Control will be notified by phone by Microbiology when a specimen is positive for VRE or rotavirus. The Microbiology Lab will screen for vancomycin resistance in enterococcus isolates from in-patients and selected out-patient services.
Handwashing for at least 10 seconds with an antimicrobial soap, or alcohol gel use is required:
1. Between patient contacts
2. Following removal of gloves/other protective equipment in the room.
3. Patients should be instructed in handwashing and the need for precautions.
B. PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT
1. Wear gloves for all contact with the patient, the patient’s bedside equipment, and the patient’s environment.
a. Change gloves between distinctive tasks (e.g. wound care, perineal care, suctioning).
b. Gloves must always be removed before leaving the room.
2. Wear a disposable gown for direct contact with the patient or the environment if the patient is incontinent, or has diarrhea or a
a. Gowns may be worn one time only, then disposed of in the regular (non-biohazardous) waste.
b. Cloth gowns may be substituted if there is no risk of splash
3. As per Standard Precautions, wear a mask and protective eyewear when performing procedures that generate aerosols (Standard Precautions)
C. PATIENT PLACEMENT
1. Place the patient in a private room.
2. Post “Special Organism Precaution” Stop sign on or next to the door of the patient’s room. The name of the infecting organism
may NOT be written on the sign.
3. A negative air pressure room is not required. The door may remain open.
4. Patients who are currently on isolation precautions for any infection may not be admitted to the Comfort Care Suites. Any questions
regarding this policy may be addressed to the Department of Hospital Epidemiology and Infection Control.
5. It is not necessary to place patients on Special Organism Precautions in a private room while they receive hemodialysis in the Acute Hemodialysis Unit (AHU). A Special Organism Precautions isolation sign should be placed at the foot of the patient’s bed. Staff should adhere to all other practices outlined in this policy including appropriate use of barriers and task oriented use of gloves.
1. Provide the patient with his or her own equipment. The equipment should not be shared (unless it is disinfected properly)
between patients. Examples include but are not limited to electronic thermometer, blood pressure cuff, manometer, stethoscope, IV pole, wheelchair, or gurney. For pediatric patients with stool-borne pathogens (e.g. VRE, rotavirus, etc.) that require diaper weighing for I & O measurement, a dedicated scale in the room is required.
2. Nursing staff should use an EPA-APPROVED DETERGENT/ DISINFECTANT to wipe down high touch surfaces once a day.
At a minimum, this cleaning should include bed rails, over bed table, night stand, as well as the surfaces of electronic equipment,
respiratory therapy equipment, and other items that come in physical contact with the patient. In critical care units, or units where there is a high endemic rate of the organism, the wipe down should be repeated each shift.
3. Quaternary Ammonium Compound (e.g. A456N or 3M Quat) is currently available for the purposes of disinfection. Cleaning cloths used in the room should not be used to lean other patients’ rooms and equipment. They should be laundered before reuse or discarded.
4. When the known VRE patient is transferred, please send signage, supplies and patient dedicated equipment with the patient.
5. Upon discharge the room will be cleaned in accordance with the PSA Cleaning Procedure. Cupboard supplies that have not been opened and are intact may be left in the room for future use.
6. Waste disposal, spill management, linen and food trays are handled in the same way for all patients, regardless of precaution category. Isolation trays are not required. After patient use, both linen and food trays are sent directly for cleaning and disinfection.
E. PATIENT TRANSPORT/AMBULATION
1. Nursing will notify Receiving Departments of any patients on Special Organism Precautions.
2. Patients may walk in hall wearing a clean cover gown if they have been instructed in handwashing, are continent, and able to cooperate with procedures.
a. Diapered patients must be supervised when out of the room.
b. Pediatric patients may go to the playroom, the teen room and the schoolroom with Infection Control/Child Life approval.
3. For patient transport, the following guidelines apply :
a. Wear gloves only if you are physically moving the patient from the bed or gurney. Wear gloves and a gown only if the patient
is incontinent, or has diarrhea or a draining wound.
b. You must remove the gown and gloves in the room, wash your hands, and then bring the patient to the receiving unit.
c. After transportation is complete, the gurney or wheelchair must be wiped with a disinfectant.
4. For staff of procedure/diagnostic areas and practices, the following guidelines apply:
a. Handwashing for at least 10 seconds with an antimicrobial soap, or alcohol gel use is required:
1. Between patient contacts,
2. Following removal of gloves/other protective equipment in the
b. Personal Protective Equipment
1. Wear gloves for all contact with the patient, the patient’s bedside equipment, and the patient’s environment. Change gloves between distinctive tasks (for example, wound care, perineal care,suctioning). Gloves must always be removed before leaving the room.
2. In the patient setting, wear a disposable gown for direct contact with the patient, if the patient is incontinent, or has
diarrhea or a draining wound.
a. Gowns may be worn one time only, then disposed of in the regular (non-biohazardous) waste.
b. Cloth gowns may be substituted if there is no risk of splash.
c. As per Standard Precautions, wear a mask and protective eyewear when performing procedures that generate aerosols
3. Provide the patient with his or her own equipment. The equipment should not be shared (unless it is disinfected properly) between patients. Examples include but are not limited to electronic thermometer, blood pressure cuff, manometer, stethoscope, IV pole, wheelchair, or gurney.
4. Staff should use an EPA-APPROVED DETERGENT/ DISINFECTANT to wipe down potentially contaminated equipment that has been in direct contact with the patient.
5. Quaternary Ammonium Compound such as A456N, or a premixed agent such as Cavacide iscurrently available for the
purposes of disinfection. Cleaning cloths used in the room should not be used to clean other patients’ rooms and equipment.
1. Traffic should be limited to only essential staff/visitors.
2. All visitors shall be instructed in proper handwashing technique. Visitors that participate in direct patient care shall be instructed in gowning and gloving, if the patient is incontinent, diapered, or has diarrhea or a draining wound.
3. Visitors may be referred to Infection Control or given written educational material.
G. PATIENT TRANSFER/DISCHARGE
1. For patients being transferred to another facility, Infection Control, discharge planner or physician shall notify the receiving institution whenever possible.
2. If requested by Admitting, Medical Records or floor personnel, a list of patients on SOP will be provided by the Infection Control Department.
H. DISCONTINUATION OF PRECAUTIONS FOR A PATIENT WITH A HISTORY OF VRE
1. IC consultation must be obtained prior to VRE screening for the purpose of discontinuing SOP.
2. The Screening Procedure is as follows:
a. Physician/Nurse/Microbiology staff will call IC department for
b. Obtain a culture from previous VRE (+) site. If this culture is (-) proceed to the next step.
c. Obtain three perianal swabs, one week apart. Under certain circumstances the usual one week interval between cultures may
be altered with IC approval.
d. Culture procedure:
1. Perianal area should be swabbed thoroughly using a dry sterile swab.
2. Place swab in culture tube without media.
3. Write on requisition “Screen for VRE” and “Infection Control approved”.
e. When three, consecutive perianal swabs are negative, SOP may be discontinued. Infection Control must be notified.
3. If all three perianal swabs cannot be obtained during the same admission, the process can be continued in the outpatient setting or during the patient’s next admission. Results from the outpatient setting or another facility must be documented and made available to Infection Control.
I. READMISSION OF PATIENTS WITH A HISTORY OF VRE
1. Patients who have culture confirmed VRE will have a “Alert” placed on their electronic hospital record by the
Infection Control Department. This alert will cause a text message stating “SPECIAL ORGANISM PRECAUTIONS IF ADMITTED”
2. The person performing the admission procedure for a patient with this alert should phone the charge nurse of the receiving unit to relay the following information so that SOP will be initiated by floor staff:
a. Patient Name
b. Patient medical record number
c. Patient is to be put on Special Organism Precautions upon arrival on the unit.
3. Once a patient has successfully cleared a VRE infection/colonization as demonstrated by the above screening procedure, the SOP “alert” will be removed by Infection Control staff.
4. Quality control checks on the system will be performed periodically by Infection Control.
II. POLICY: Special Organism Precautions are implemented in a MODIFIED form for certain diseases transmitted via contact as well as other routes.
A. Patients with suspected or confirmed smallpox, or complications from the smallpox vaccine (vaccinia) require Special Organism/Contact Precautions AND Airborne/AFB isolation.
B. Patients with suspected or confirmed Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) require Special Organism/Contact Precautions AND Airborne/AFB isolation.