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Airborne Precautions

Examples of when it is appropriate to start empiric application of airborne precautions include, but are not limited to, the following situations:
  • Suspected or confirmed case of tuberculosis (TB)
  • Physician diagnosed chickenpox or disseminated herpes zoster
  • Measles
  • Smallpox
Airborne particles:
  • Are smaller than 5 µm (micrometers)
  • Can remain suspended in air for an extended time 
  • Can travel on air currents and create an exposure risk to people who are susceptible
Patients on airborne isolation precautions require an airborne infection isolation room (AIIR), formerly referred to as a negative air pressure room:
  • The AIIR must be a private room with negative air pressure and a minimum of 6-12 air changes per hour.
  • The door to the AIIR must remain closed, except for entering and exiting the room.
  • Daily checks should be performed and results recorded on all AIIRs currently in use.
Everyone entering an AIIR must wear an N95 respirator mask.
Transporting patients on airborne precautions
  • The patient must wear a surgical mask during transport. Escort the patient, if needed, to ensure the patient does not remove his/her mask during transport.
  • The transporter does not need to wear a gown, gloves, or mask when transporting patients on airborne precautions.
  • The transporting unit/transporter must notify the receiving department of the precautions necessary to reduce the risk of transmission of infectious organisms.