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Departments & Programs,UW Health

Infection Control

Infection Control - Departments & Programs, UW Health

The Infection Control department is committed to the prevention and control of health care-associated infections (HAIs) through collaboration with departments across the spectrum of patient care.


The Infection Control department takes a leadership role in identifying and implementing innovative approaches to the prevention of HAIs. Specific efforts include:


Can Cavi-Wipes be kept on the counters just outside patient rooms?


Can you use the back of your hand to shut off a faucet instead of a paper towel?

No, an elbow may be used.

Do I need to initiate isolation precautions for patients with cystic fibrosis even if they do not have a history of MRSA?

Empiric isolation (contact with a mask) is needed for CF patients admitted with pulmonary exacerbation until MRSA or Burkholderia is ruled out. If patient is confirmed to have either or has a history of either infection/colonization then the patient will remain in isolation for the duration of stay and subsequent visits until the organism is removed from the "Infection" field in Health Link. Please refer to policy 13.25, Infection Control in Cystic Fibrosis Patient Population.

Do I need to wear an N-95 mask for a patient in disseminated herpes zoster or immunocompromised patient with herpes zoster airborne precautions?

While localized herpes zoster, shingles, requires only contact precautions; disseminated herpes zoster in any patient or herpes zoster in an immunocompromised patient requires both airborne and contact precautions. Individuals who know they are immune to the varicella-zoster virus (VZV) (ie, those who have had chicken pox or had the varicella vaccine and have been tested for immunity) do not need to wear an N-95 respirator when entering the isolation room or when otherwise interacting with the patient. Those who do not have immunity to VZV or are unsure should avoid coming into contact with the patient.

Does a patient with disseminated herpes zoster or an immunocompromised patient with herpes zoster need to wear a mask when outside his/her patient room? If so, which mask?

Yes. Since an individual with disseminated herpes zoster may have the virus in their respiratory tract, the patient should wear a snug-fitting surgical mask if he/she must leave their room. All skin lesions must also be covered.

Does someone who has had a MRSA infection always need to be in isolation when they return to UWHC?

They do if they are an inpatient or outpatient within the CSC. If the patient is visiting a UWHC clinic outside of the CSC and has no signs of active infection, then only standard precautions is needed.

Does someone who has had a VRE infection or colonization always need to be in isolation when they return to UWHC?

They do if they are an inpatient or outpatient within the CSC. If the patient is visiting a UWHC clinic outside of the CSC and has no signs of active infection, then only standard precautions is needed.

For C diff patients, is it OK to gel in as opposed to washing hands since you have not been in contact with the infected patient yet?

Technically, Yes.

How long does a patient with C. diff need to stay in isolation?

Patients with C. difficile need to stay in Enhanced Contact isolation for the duration of their stay. If a patient is newly admitted and has a “C. diff” flag in their Health Link header, then they should be placed in isolation because they have had a positive C. diff test w/I the past 30 days. For patients who have stays longer than 30 days, please contact Infection Control for guidance on d/c of isolation.

If a patient has the required 3 sets of MRSA PCRs, who do we contact so that they are no longer flagged with MRSA in Health Link

As of January 1, 2016, patients are no longer cleared from MRSA at UW Health. Please refer to the Infectious Flags for Patients at UW Health document. You may contact Infection Control at infectioncontrol@uwhealth.org with any questions.

If I leaving one patient room and perform hand hygiene and go into the next patients room without touching anything, do I have to do hand hygiene again?

Hand hygiene does not need to be performed again if nothing is touched and your hands are still wet with gel as you are entering the next patient’s room.

Instead of a caviwipe, can I use gel on the end of my stethoscope?

Yes. Clean hands with gel first. Then may follow with gel to end of stethoscope.

Regarding adhesive tape and sterile dressings: When do you tear the tape? Is it OK to tear before the procedure w/ ungloved hands and then anchor the pieces to a clean but not sterile surface?

It is fine to tear the tape with clean hands before the procedure and anchor to a clean surface.

Regarding adhesive tape in general: should one roll of tape be used per patient for wound care?

For wound care we should be using one roll of tape per patient. If this is not feasible, then only clean hands should be touching the tape.

Should bedside tables be cleaned off before putting supplies on them for a procedure? Even if the supplies are all in sterile wrappers?


What should I do if I see another HCW not wearing PPE to enter an isolation room?

Gently remind the HCW that it is an isolation room and PPE must be worn. Also, set an example by wearing PPE whenever you enter an isolation room. If the HCW remains non-compliant contact his or her supervisor or the Infection Control Department. Remember, infection control is everyone’s responsibility.

When cleaning surfaces with the disinfectant spray, is it sufficient to spray on and allow to air dry or does the surface have to be physically wiped/rubbed?

We should follow the instructions on the bottle that says to wipe. The wiping step would be important to ensure all surfaces are covered with the solution.

When do I initiate isolation for rule out infections (e.g.) r/o MRSA, C.difficile, TB, H1N1, VRE)?

Patients with symptoms of a communicable disease should be placed into the appropriate isolation precautions immediately. If a test has been ordered for a disease that requires isolation, then that isolation should be implemented until the infection is ruled out or has resolved per CDC recommendations.

When inserting an IV it is much easier to lay out equipment on the bed by the patient's arm - is this OK or should I put down a Chux on a clean surface?

Should be on a clean surface.

When should we clean equipment between patient use? Should we do this BEFORE use on patient, AFTER use on patient, or BOTH before AND after?

After each patient use. This will help allow for appropriate dry time.

When starting an IV, after prepping the site with Chloraprep, can I palpate the skin just cleaned with Chloraprep one last time prior to the insertion?

You may Chloraprep your gloved finger and while it is still wet you may palpate the skin one last time.

When washing my hands, can I use the paper towel I have just dried my hands with to turn off the faucets?


While doing a dressing or other procedure on patients with c diff , is it OK to gel between changing gloves or does the nurse need to wash hands?

No, soap and water should be used to wash away the C. diff spores.

Why does the handout only specify wiping down wheelchairs w/ CaviWipes? Wouldn't spraying w/ disinfectant also be acceptable?

Spraying and wiping it down is also allowed.


Department Structure and Information

Laboratory Information


Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC)

Centers for Disease Control

Clinical Infectious Disease (uwhealth.org)

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA)

UW School of Medicine and Public Health

Wisconsin Department of Health Services


Laboratory Services

Employee Health Services

Infection Control (Full Department page)