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Standard Precautions


Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) can develop while receiving care in a healthcare facility. To prevent the transmission of microorganisms between patients, health workers, and the environment, standard precautions are implemented as part of preventative measures. When a patient is known or suspected to have a transmissible infectious disease or multi-drug resistant organisms (MDROs), Transmission Based precautions (Refer to section 3) is applied in addition to Standard Precautions.

Standard precautions are the minimum standard of infection prevention and control (IPC) practices that should be used by all health workers, during the care of all patients, at all times, and in all settings. Since the application of standard precautions is a minimal requirement, they should be embedded as a part of the routine clinical care of all patients. Therefore, its application should also be monitored to ensure compliance with safe practices, and the monitoring process must be an ongoing commitment as part of the organisation’s Safety and Quality of care process. It is also required by the Health and Safety Executive and the care regulators, i.e. Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA). The elements of standard precautions include:


  • Standard precautions for the prevention and control of infections: aide-memoire. Geneva: World Health Organization, June 2022.

  • National infection prevention and control manual (NIPCM) for England.

  • NHS National Service Scotland. National Infection Prevention and Control Manual.
  • SHEA/IDSA/APIC Practice Recommendation: Strategies to prevent healthcare-associated infections through hand hygiene: 2022 Update. Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, 2023; 44, 355–376.