Respiratory Hygiene/Cough Etiquette

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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Infection Prevention and Control for Healthcare Personnel. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Respiratory Hygiene/Cough Etiquette

The CDC recommends that measures should be taken to contain respiratory secretions from any individuals with signs and symptoms of a respiratory infection. This includes:
  • Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
  • Discarding the tissue in the nearest trash container immediately after use.
  • Performing hand hygiene after contact with respiratory secretions and/or contaminated objects/materials.
In addition:
  • Place a surgical mask on a coughing patient (if tolerated).
  • Separate persons with respiratory infections at least three feet apart, if possible, in common waiting areas.
To help stop the spread of infections transmitted by coughing or sneezing (eg, influenza, respiratory syncytial virus, whooping cough), the CDC recommends:
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
  • Staying home when you are sick.
  • Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Avoid using your bare hand to cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze. If a tissue is not readily available, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow.
  • Washing your hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
Visit this link for the PDF of the Cover Your Cough poster.