Anesthesiologists routinely care for patients known or suspected of harboring infectious pathogens. This article discusses current recommendations for preventing occupationally acquired infectious disease, focusing on those most relevant to the anesthesia professional.

In the health care setting, three modes of transmission are generally recognized: contact, droplet and airborne. When spread from one individual to another occurs by contaminated hands or an intermediary object (e.g., patient care device or environmental surface), this is referred to as indirect contact transmission. Direct contact occurs without such an intermediary (e.g., a needlestick).

Hand hygiene is an easy and effective means to prevent occupational exposure. Perform hand hygiene (using alcohol-based hand gel or soap and water) after removing gloves. Gloves may have or acquire microscopic tears or punctures during use; furthermore, hands may be contaminated during glove removal. Use barrier protections (e.g., gloves, masks, eye shields) when performing airway procedures.

Droplet spread is associated with...

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