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Infection Prevention Policies

Patients at the SCCA are often times immunocompromised, which make them highly susceptibility to infection. Because health care workers have significant contact with physically at-risk individuals, the spread of infection between health care workers and patients is a major concern, and its prevention is therefore a high priority at the SCCA.

Staff Policies

  • Hand hygiene, by washing with soap and water or applying alcohol hand gel, is the simplest and most effective way to reduce risk of transmitting microorganisms to others.
  • Staff should refrain from working in the clinic and consult with Occupational Health to determine when it is safe to return to work:
    • Fever
    • Cold and flu symptoms (e.g. coughing, runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, fever, chills, body aches)
    • A new rash
    • Diarrhea or vomiting
    • Conjunctivitis (also known as pink eye)
  • No fresh flowers, dried flowers, or live plants allowed in the Clinic.
  • No pets except for service animals allowed in the Clinic.
  • No fish tanks are allowed in the Clinic.
  • Artificial nails are not allowed in the Clinic.

Isolation of Patients with Concerning Infections

Patients actively infected with or incubating transmissible infectious diseases are seen frequently in ambulatory settings and potentially expose healthcare personnel and other patients, family members and visitors. At the SCCA clinic there are two tiers of precautions to prevent transmission of these infectious agents, Standard Precautions and Transmission-Based Precautions.

Because it is often not possible to know when an individual may be infectious, the use of Standard Precautions represents the best method to reduce the risk of disease transmission in the healthcare setting. Standard Precautions are to be used on ALL patients, regardless of their diagnosis or presumed infectious status, when coming into contact (or risk of contact) with any of the following: (1) blood, (2) all body fluids, secretions and excretions except sweat, (3) non-intact skin, or (4) mucous membranes.

Standard Precautions consist of the following components:

  1. Routine hand hygiene
  2. Consistent and correct glove use (i.e., glove changing with hand hygiene between patients)
  3. Appropriate use of masks, eye protection, and face shields
  4. Appropriate use of gowns
  5. Routine cleaning or disposal of patient care equipment
  6. Regular cleaning of all environmental surfaces
  7. Appropriate handling of contaminated linen
  8. Strict adherence to occupational safety requirements
  9. Effective management of patients with poor hygienic practices
  10. Respiratory hygiene/cough etiquette (e.g., cover your cough, dispose of used Kleenex in the garbage, post educational signs, and spatial separation of persons with respiratory infections in common areas)
  11. Safe injection practices (e.g., use of a sterile, single-use, disposable needle and syringe for each injection)
  12. Use of masks for insertion of catheters or injection of material into spinal or epidural spaces via lumbar puncture procedures (e.g., myelogram, spinal or epidural anesthesia)

Transmission-Based Precautions are designed for patients documented or suspected to be infected or colonized (Presence of microorganism in or on patient but without clinical signs and symptoms of infection. Persons colonized with a pathogen are still infectious) with highly transmissible or epidemiologically important pathogens for which additional precautions beyond Standard Precautions are needed to interrupt transmission.

At the SCCA Ambulatory Clinic, the four types of Transmission-Based Precautions are:

  • Contact Precautions
  • Special Contact Precautions
  • Respiratory Precautions
  • Special Respiratory Precautions

All patients on one of the four types of transmission-based precautions will have signage with instructions posted on the outside of the exam area.  Please read the sign and follow all instructions.  For more detailed information on isolation precautions a manual is available on the O drive and hard copies are located in the isolation carts on the patient care units throughout the clinic.  The effectiveness of Isolation Precautions depends upon vigilant compliance by every healthcare worker.

Respiratory Symptom Triage System

  • The clinic does cold and flu symptom screening to determine whether or not persons may be infectious.  The screening may either be done through self-reporting or through universal screening.  The Infection Control Department will communicate with staff regularly as to the current screening level and recommended prevention measures. 
  • A Respiratory Virus Management Plan that includes detailed information on the clinic policies and procedures is available on the Intranet. 
  • During the winter months (October – April), when circulation of cold and flu viruses is high a universal symptom screening process is in place.
    • All patients are asked to complete a cold and flu symptom questionnaire.
    • Patients with symptoms of cold and flu are placed on isolation during the visit and may be tested for respiratory viruses by obtaining a nasal swab.
    • Non-patients that have cold and flu symptoms are asked to refrain from visiting the clinic until symptoms resolve.  If that is not possible, non-patients are given a mask to wear during the clinic stay and asked to be vigilant about performing hand hygiene.

Arrange for the patient to receive exams, blood draws and therapies in a private space or reschedule appointments after symptoms resolve.

Infection Prevention Quiz Questions

 a. True
 b. False
 a. Uncontrolled respiratory secretions
 b. Sneezing/coughing
 c. Chills with or without fever
 d. Any of the above

Check Answers


Correct answers:

  1. a. True
  2. d. Any of the above