Respiratory Hygiene

The goal of the respiratory hygiene plan is to increase awareness of proper respiratory hygiene in the clinic setting. This plan is consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC’s) plan for implementation of respiratory hygiene in the healthcare setting.

As part of the overall program to improve patient respiratory etiquette, healthcare workers should be educated regarding respiratory hygiene that can result in decreased transmission of respiratory pathogens in the clinic/emergent setting. The education plan includes:

  • Respiratory hygiene signs (in English and Spanish) will be placed in the waiting rooms in clinics and emergency department, including the UHC and local Family Medicine Clinics.
  • Proper respiratory hygiene education includes and is not limited to the following:
    • Patients will be encouraged to report any respiratory symptoms (coughing, fever) upon arrival to the clinic.
    • OSA’s will have surgical masks or tissues available as patients check-in.
    • Patients who are coughing or running a fever will be given a surgical mask to wear or will be given tissues and will be asked to cover their nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing.
    • No-touch receptacles will be available for used tissue disposal.
    • Patients who are coughing will be taken to an exam room as soon as possible. If this is not possible, when space and chair availability permit, encourage coughing patients to sit at least six feet away from others in the common waiting area to decrease the other patients risk of exposure to respiratory pathogens.
    • Patients will be encouraged to wash hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol hand rub. Where sinks are available, ensure that supplies for handwashing (i.e., soap, disposable towels) are consistently available.
    • Healthcare workers will be advised to wear a surgical mask, goggles, gown and gloves for close contact when examining a patient with symptoms of a respiratory infection, particularly if a fever is present. These precautions should be maintained until it is determined that the cause of symptoms is not an infectious agent that requires a surgical mask, goggles, gown and gloves.