Navigate Up

Infection Control: For Patients on Special Precautions and Their Visitors

Spread of infection

Infections can be spread through the air and by contact with hands, personal items, or health care equipment.

Special precautions

Special precautions (pre-CAW-shuns) may be taken because of a known or suspected infection. It is very important to protect all of our patients from infection. We need to use special practices to stop the spread of some infections. This information sheet tells you about special precautions.

Special precautions may include:

  • A private room
  • A semi-private room, with another person who has a similar condition
  • Protective clothing worn by health care staff and visitors, such as gloves, gowns, or masks
  • Special equipment that stays in the patient’s room
  • Limited movement in and out of the room
  • Cleaning of hands by all patients, staff, and visitors
  • Patients on special precautions should not use the kitchen on the nursing unit, sit in common waiting areas, or go to the cafeteria

Clean your hands

The most important step in stopping the spread of infection is cleaning your hands. You can clean your hands with soap and water or a waterless hand sanitizer.

When you go home

If you need to take special precautions at home, your nurse will explain them to you before your discharge. Ask your doctor or nurse any questions you may have. They will talk to you about your personal situation.

For visitors

When you come to visit your loved one, follow these guidelines:

  • Before you enter the special precautions room, check with a nurse. The staff may
    give you protective clothing that you will wear to enter the special precautions room.
  • Read the sign posted outside the special precautions room. The sign lists the precautions you need to take.
  • Clean your hands right before you leave the special precautions room.
  • There may be a limit to the number of visitors.
  • Take as few things as possible into the special precautions room.

If you have questions

If you have any questions about special precautions, please ask your doctor or nurse. You may also contact the hospital’s Infection Control Department. Tell your nurse that you want to do so.

Reviewed August 2013


UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences | Supplemental content provided by Healthwise, Incorporated. To learn more, visit

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

Pittsburgh, PA, USA |