Isolation Procedures: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Your doctor wants you to be kept away, or isolated, from other patients while you get medical care. You may be in a special hospital room. This helps to keep you separate from other people. This may be done because you have an infection that can be spread to others. Or your condition makes you more easily infected by others. The type of isolation depends on the infection. Infections can be spread through the large or small droplets in the air. These are called airborne infections. Other types can be spread by touching a surface that has been infected by body fluids or stool.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

What can you expect while in isolation?

  • When your doctors and nurses care for you, they may use extra precautions. For example, they may wear gloves, masks, and gowns. Other hospital workers may wear them too.
  • If you don't have an infection that can be spread through the air, masks may not be needed.
  • Everyone who enters or leaves the room needs to wash his or her hands very well.
  • Sometimes isolation rooms use negative air pressure. This helps prevent airborne diseases (such as tuberculosis) from escaping the room and infecting other people. A machine pulls air into the room. It filters the air before moving it outside. You may be able to feel air being sucked into the room under a closed door. Or it may come through a slightly opened window.
  • In other cases, positive air pressure may be used. For example, this may be used when a person has a weakened immune system. Clean, filtered air is constantly pumped into the room. This is done to keep contagious diseases out of the room.
  • You may be allowed to have visitors. Sometimes visitors may be asked to wear masks, gowns, and gloves. In some cases, only certain family members may be allowed to visit. Children may not be allowed. Those who have colds, flu, or other illnesses will not be allowed to visit you.
  • The door to your room may need to stay closed at all times.
  • You may need to stay in your room, except for tests or procedures that can't be done in your room.

Where can you learn more?

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.