Examples of when it is appropriate to start empiric application of droplet precautions include, but are not limited to, suspicion of the following illnesses:
- Influenza (flu)
- Pertussis (whooping cough)
- Bacterial meningitis
- Rubella (German measles)
- Mycoplasma pneumoniae
Droplets are particles of respiratory secretions that:
- Are larger than 5 µm (micrometers)
- Do not remain suspended in the air for extended periods
- Can be transmitted within three to six feet from the source patient
It is not necessary to use special air handling systems and/or higher level respirator masks to care for patients with diseases capable of droplet transmission. Unlike patients on airborne precautions, the doors of droplet precaution rooms may remain open. However, everyone entering the room must wear a surgical mask.
Transporting patients on droplet precautions
Before leaving a droplet precautions room:
- 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 droplet precautions.
- The transporting unit/transporter must notify the receiving department of the precautions necessary to reduce the risk of transmission of infectious organisms.