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Blood and Body Fluid Precautions

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How can you reduce your risk of exposure to blood and body fluids?

Blood and body fluid precautions involve the use of protective barriers such as gloves, gowns, masks, and eye protection. These reduce the risk of exposing the skin or mucous membranes to potentially infectious fluids. Health care workers should always use protective barriers to protect themselves from exposure to another person's blood or body fluids.

  • Gloves protect you whenever you touch blood; body fluids; mucous membranes; or broken, burned, or scraped skin. The use of gloves also decreases the risk of disease transmission if you are pricked with a needle.
    • Always wear gloves for handling items or surfaces soiled with blood or body fluids.
    • Wear gloves if you have scraped, cut, or chapped skin on your hands.
    • Change your gloves after each use.
    • Wash your hands immediately after removing your gloves.
    • Wash your hands and other skin surfaces immediately after they come in contact with blood or body fluids.
  • Masks and protective eyewear, such as goggles or a face shield, help protect your eyes, mouth, and nose from droplets of blood and other body fluids. Always wear a mask and protective eyewear if you are doing a procedure that may expose you to splashes or sprays of blood or body fluids.
  • Gowns or aprons protect you from splashes of blood or body fluids. Always wear a gown or apron if you are doing a procedure that may expose you to splashes or sprays of blood or body fluids.

How else can I reduce my risk?

The American Red Cross recommends that everyone use blood and body fluid precautions while giving first aid. You may wish to have gloves available in your home, office, or vehicle if you think you may be required to help another person in an emergency.

Other precautions can help you minimize your risk of exposure to contaminated blood and body fluids.

  • If you give injections to a family member or to yourself:
    • Use puncture-resistant containers to dispose of needles, scalpels, and other sharp instruments.
    • Do not recap needles.
    • Do not bend or handle used needles or disposable syringes.
  • Avoid touching objects that may be contaminated.

Learn first aid and CPR, so when you are faced with an emergency or injury, you will know what to do.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: June 06, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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