Safety guides and audits to make your job as a safety professional easier

Universal Precautions



"Universal precautions," as defined by the CDC, are a set of precautions designed to prevent transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), and other bloodborne pathogens when providing first aid or healthcare. Under universal precautions, blood and certain body fluids of all patients are considered potentially infectious for HIV, HBV and other bloodborne pathogens.


Application of Universal Precautions

Universal precautions apply to blood, other body fluids containing visible blood, semen, and vaginal secretions. Universal precautions also apply to tissues and to the following fluids: cerebrospinal, synovial, pleural, peritoneal, pericardial, and amniotic fluids. Universal precautions do not apply to feces, nasal secretions, sputum, sweat, tears, urine, and vomitus unless they contain visible blood. Universal precautions do not apply to saliva except when visibly contaminated with blood or in the dental setting where blood contamination of saliva is predictable.

Personal Protective Equipment

Universal precautions involve the use of personal protective equipment such as gloves, gowns, aprons, masks, or protective eyewear, which can reduce the risk of exposure of the healthcare worker's skin or mucous membranes to potentially infective materials. In addition, under universal precautions, it is recommended that all healthcare workers take precautions to prevent injuries caused by needles, scalpels, and other sharp instruments or devices.

Pregnant healthcare worker considerations

Pregnant healthcare workers are not known to be at greater risk of contracting HIV infection than are healthcare workers who are not pregnant; however, if a healthcare worker develops HIV infection during pregnancy, the infant is at risk of infection resulting from perinatal transmission. Because of this risk, pregnant healthcare workers should be especially familiar with, and strictly adhere to, precautions to minimize the risk of HIV transmission.


Robert is interviewing for a nursing position with St. Vincent Hospital in Portland, OR. During the interview he is asked to explain the difference between "universal precautions" and "personal protective equipment."

How should Robert answer this question?

Personal protective equipment refers to equipment designed to reduce or prevent exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials. Examples of personal protective equipment are: disposable gloves, gowns, face masks, eye shields, and lab coats.

Universal precautions include the use of personal protective equipment, but also include engineering and work practice controls designed to prevent exposure to blood and other potentially infectious materials.


Before beginning this quiz, we highly recommend you review the module material. This quiz is designed to allow you to self-check your comprehension of the module content, but only focuses on key concepts and ideas.

Read each question carefully. Select the best answer, even if more than one answer seems possible. When done, click on the "Get Quiz Answers" button. If you do not answer all the questions, you will receive an error message.

Good luck!

1. _____ is/are a key component of universal precautions.

2. Under universal precautions, blood and certain body fluids are considered potentially infectious for _____.

3. When do universal precautions apply to saliva?

4. Universal precautions NEVER apply to urine.

Have a great day!

Important! You will receive an "error" message unless all questions are answered.