Isolation Precautions for Pediatric Patients
What are isolation precautions?
“Isolation precautions” refer to special
safety measures that are put into place to
lessen the spread of germs (bacteria, viruses,
fungi) within the hospital.
Reasons your child may be placed in
we suspect or know that your child
has an infection that can be spread to
others in the hospital
he carries certain types of germs,
even if they are not making him ill
We do this because it is very easy for some
patients to catch these germs. For these
patients, even germs that don’t usually make
people sick can cause bad infections.
Who decides if my child needs to be put in
Healthcare centers may have different rules
about isolation. This Health Facts for You
will focus on the rules at American Family
Children’s Hospital. For the most part, the
guidelines set up by the Centers for Disease
Control (CDC) will be followed. The doctor
or nurse caring for your child or an Infection
Control Practitioner (ICP) may decide if
your child will need to be placed in
isolation. If your child has symptoms or has
a history of a contagious illness he may be
placed in isolation even before test results
confirm that the germ is there.
Will my child need to have an isolation
sign posted on the door?
Yes, the isolation sign will be posted on
your child’s door so that health care
workers, family and friends will know what
steps they must take to prevent the spread of
germs. The sign does not list your child’s
name and does not list what germ he has. It
only lists what steps must be taken when
people enter the room.
What detailed precautions will be
Hand Hygiene must be performed by all
people going in and out of your child’s
room. This means 15 seconds with soap and
water or alcohol hand gel. Soap and water
must be used every time hands are visibly
dirty and when the sign on your child’s door
instructs to use soap and water instead of the
alcohol hand gel.
Other detailed precautions that are needed
will depend upon how the germ that your
child has can be spread.
Contact Precautions: These are used when
an illness can spread by touching the child
or objects that the child has touched and the
germs that cause the illness are hard to kill
on hands and surfaces. If your child is in
this type of isolation, all people who enter
your child’s room must wear a gown and
gloves. They must also wash their hands
with soap and water rather than alcohol hand
gel. Bleach will be used to clean your
Enhanced Contact Precautions: These are
used when an illness can spread by touching
the child or objects that the child has
touched and the germs that cause the illness
are hard to kill on hands and surfaces. If
your child is in this type of isolation, all
people who enter your child’s room must
wear a gown and gloves. They must also
wash their hands with soap and water rather
than alcohol hand gel. Bleach will be used
to clean your child’s room.
Droplet Precautions: These are used when
an illness is spread by secretions from the
nose and mouth (i.e. coughing, sneezing,
talking). All people going into your child’s
room must always wear a mask. Your child
may also be asked to wear a mask if she
must leave the room. If a mask can not be
worn when leaving the room, then your
child’s cough should be covered with a
tissue and hand hygiene should be done.
Airborne Precautions: These are used
when an illness is spread in the air. Your
child will be in a special room where air
flows into the room instead of out. This
helps to stop the spread of airborne germs.
So that air flows into the room, the door
must remain closed. Anyone who enters
your child’s room will wear a special mask
called a respirator. Your child may also be
asked to wear a mask if she must leave the
room. If a mask can not be worn when
leaving the room, then your child’s cough
should be covered with a tissue and hand
hygiene should be done.
How can I, the Parent or Guardian, help
to prevent the spread of germs?
Parents/Guardians of children in contact
and/or droplet precautions will receive the
Isolation Precautions Parent/Guardian
Agreement to review with the nurse and
sign. This form states that although it is
preferred that parents/guardians follow all
safety measures on the isolation sign, they
may opt-out of wearing protective gear
when their child is in contact and/or droplet
precautions. The only exception to this
would be if a child has or is thought to have
If you opt out you must ALWAYS wash or
gel your hands before you leave your child’s
room and upon return to the room. If you
opt out, to protect other patients and their
family members, you will not be able to
use the school rooms, playrooms, waiting
rooms, family lounges and computers, or
the unit kitchen after visiting with your
child. Use your call for assistance as the
unit desk should be avoided to prevent
the spread of infection. You will be able to
enter the UWHC cafeteria, AFCH gift shop
and other public areas of the hospital that are
away from the inpatient care units. To avoid
getting germs on your clothing you should
also wear a gown or gloves when holding
your child if he has mucous or loose stools.
Friends and family members should not visit
if they have any symptoms of a contagious
illness such as a cough, sore throat, fever,
rash, or diarrhea.
For primary support persons, if you are ill
and must stay with your child, please contact
your child’s nurse or doctor to discuss the
health risks to your child and any special
safety measures that you may need to take.
It will be important for you to bathe daily
and change into clean clothing to help
reduce the spread of germs when your child
is in contact precautions.
All other family and friends MUST follow
all requirements that are listed on your
child’s door. This includes wearing
Can my child’s door be left open?
If your child is in airborne precautions, the
door will need to remain closed. For droplet
and contact isolation, the door can be left
open. Your nursing staff can answer any
questions about this.
Can my child leave the room?
When in isolation, your child should stay in
his room. Your child may need to leave the
room for certain tests. If so, the nurse will
explain what precautions must be taken.
Your child may be asked to wear a mask,
gown, and/or gloves depending on the type
of isolation. You and your child will always
be asked to clean your hands very well with
an alcohol gel or soap and water before
leaving the room. You or your child should
not have direct contact with other patients
because many of our patients have
weakened immune systems and you could
spread germs to them. Please follow these
Patients in isolation and their families must
ask staff for items from the unit kitchen as
we do not allow you to be in this area. If
your child is not able to leave the room,
Physical Therapy can provide exercises for
your child. Child Life can be called on to
provide toys and games that are easy to
Is my child allowed to have family and
In most cases, your child can have people
visit. Those who visit will have to follow
the same health care precautions as health
care workers. This will include the need to
wear protective clothing when going into
your child’s room and washing hands with
soap and water or alcohol hand rub.
Siblings or other children who visit patients
in isolation are not allowed to go to the
playroom and will be asked to stay in the
isolation room until they are done visiting.
Siblings may visit Tyler’s Place, but must
wash hands with soap and water or alcohol
hand gel before they enter and should not
visit Tyler’s Place if they have symptoms of
an illness (e.g. fever, cough, sore throat,
rash, diarrhea, eye or skin infection).
Can food that has been in my child’s
room be stored in the unit refrigerator?
If your child is in droplet or contact
precautions, then food that has been in your
child’s room cannot be returned to the
hospital refrigerator. Food from home may
be stored in the hospital refrigerator until it
enters your child’s room.
When can isolation precautions end?
Your child’s doctor or a hospital infection
control team will decide when precautions
are no longer needed. Some patients need to
be in isolation during their full hospital stay.
Even if isolation ends, hand hygiene should
still be performed when you enter and leave
your child’s room to protect your child from
What about when my child goes home?
Your doctor or nurse will tell you if you
need to take any special safety measures at
home. Hand hygiene, teaching your child to
cover their cough with their sleeve or a
tissue and frequent cleaning of high touch
surfaces are the best ways to prevent the
spread of germs.
If your child is not cleared of isolation
before he goes home, please tell all hospital
staff if your child returns for clinic visits or
further time in the hospital. Your child may
need to be placed in isolation again until it
can be confirmed that it is no longer needed.
This is to protect your child as well as staff
and other patients.
The Spanish version of this Health Facts for
You is #7187
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 8/2017 University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6415.