Universal precautions are safety measures that are followed for the prevention of the spread of HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) and other bloodborne pathogens. All samples of blood and body fluids are to be considered infectious while dealing with them. In fact, it was after the discovery of HIV that universal precautions became known to be extremely important in a healthcare setting.
As an employer, it is a major responsibility to ensure that all your health care workers are adhering to universal precautions. While treating patients of HIV or AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Virus), all employees must have an open mind and focus on leaving all prejudices behind, following universal precautions as usual. There is no room for mistakes for such cases.
Here are five measures to prevent the transmission of HIV infections:
• Personal Protective Equipment: Your health care employees must be taught to always use protective clothing when handling HIV/AIDS patients. Protective gear like face masks, gowns, gloves and goggles must be used during occasions where chances of accidental splashing of blood and fluids are high. It is essential to change gloves between patients and procedures to avoid contamination. Make sure all gloves and gowns are in good condition without any holes or tears.
• Equipments and Instruments: Needles and sharp instruments must be used carefully while using them on HIV patients. If any of your health care employees gets an accidental cut or prick, immediate treatment should be started. Gloves are essential as they provide protection. Despite wearing gloves, all sharps must be handled with special care and later disposed in a sharps-container.
• Mouth-to-mouth breathing: Sometimes an HIV patient may have a sudden cardiac arrest and require administration of artificial respiration. Even though there is only a negligible chance of spread of the virus through the saliva, it is still good to be careful. There is a greater chance of transmission if the patient has developed a wound in the mouth. Your nurses and doctors must wear gloves and give rescue breaths through respiratory devices in such situations.
• Hygiene: Good hygiene habits must be practiced in your health care facility at all times even while dealing with normal patients. Gloves must be donned before treating a patient and afterwards must be taken off carefully and placed in marked containers. Hand washing with antiseptic soap is a must after handling any patient. In the event of any body fluid touching your skin, a disinfectant must be used.
• Injuries: You must make a rule that any health worker with personal injuries like open wounds or broken skin must avoid dealing with such patients. In case they have to, they must properly cover the injured area to decrease the chances of contracting the infection.
HIV infection results in AIDS, which is a fatal disease. There is no absolute cure for it and therefore great emphasis must be given on strictly following precautionary measures to prevent its spread. Other than the above measures, you must keep your health care employees aware of the latest protective measures used. Following these simple universal precautions can save lives and must not be taken lightly.