Are Contact Precautions ethically justifiable in contemporary hospital care? Academic Article uri icon


  • Hospital infection control practices known as Contact Precautions are recommended for the management of people with pathogens such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or vancomycin-resistant Enterococci. Background: The patient is isolated, and staff are required to wear gloves, and a gown or apron when providing care. A notice is displayed to remind staff of these requirements and an 'alert' message is placed in the patient's medical record. Objective: The aim of this article is to discuss and explore whether practices used in hospitals to reduce the transmission of endemic antibiotic-resistant organisms are ethically justified in today's healthcare environment in the developed world. In order to do this, the history of the development of these practices is summarised, and the evidence base for their effectiveness is reviewed. Key bioethics principles are then discussed and contextualised from the perspective of hospital infection prevention and control, and an ethically superior model for the prevention and control of healthcare associated infection is proposed.

publication date

  • 2019