Public Health Agency

Standard precautions


Healthcare associated infections (HCAI’s) are infections that develop, as a direct result of receiving healthcare. Occasionally, carers or staff providing healthcare may develop HCAIs.

Standard precautions are a set of activities designed to prevent the transmission of organisms between patients/staff and , in turn, prevent HCAIs.

Click to download the Healthcare Associated Infections Leaflet

We do not always know which patients/clients have organisms that can cause infection. Therefore standard precautions are used in the care of ALL patients/clients in EVERY healthcare setting. They include:

  1. Hand hygiene
  2. The use of personal protective equipment (PPE)
  3. Handling and disposal of waste and sharps
  4. Handling and management of clean and used linen
  5. Environmental cleaning
  6. Decontamination of equipment

Where a patient is known (or suspected) to have a transmissible infectious organism/disease ‘Transmission Based Precautions’ are used IN ADDITION to Standard Precautions. These target the three means of transmission (contact, droplet and airborne). Details of Transmission Based Precautions can be found in the ‘Transmission Based Precautions’ section of this manual.


1. FRAISE, A. and BRADLEY, C. (2009) Ayliffe’s Control of Healthcare-Associated Infection: A Practical Handbook Fifth Ed. CRC Press, Croydon

2. epic3: National Evidence-Based Guidelines for Preventing Healthcare-Associated Infections in

NHS Hospitals in England. Available at: Based_Guidelines_for_Preventing_HCAI_in_NHSE.pdf