Nursing in isolation

Information for patients and visitors

Medical Microbiology and Infection Prevention

This page provides information about the measures that need to be taken in order to prevent the spread of bacteria or viruses to patients, visitors and hospital staff.

Everyone carries so-called 'micro-organisms': these are bacteria, viruses, yeasts and fungi. These micro-organisms are a part of us and are often very useful. For example, bacteria play an important role in our digestive system. You will come in contact with these micro-organisms in hospital as well.

Why isolation?

Many micro-organisms are harmless, but there are some that could cause an infection.

In order to prevent the spread of micro-organisms as much as possible, all hospital staff comply with a number of basic hygiene measures, such as washing and disinfecting their hands. However, sometimes this is not enough and it is necessary to nurse a patient in isolation (separate from other patients). This is to prevent the further spread of bacteria and viruses via direct contact (e.g. via hands) and indirect contact (for example, via the air or via materials).

Sometimes, a person is nursed in isolation for certain complaints, such as infectious diarrhoea. Another reason for being nursed in isolation is (the possibility of) carrying a bacterium that is resistant to a large number of antibiotics. Resistant bacteria are also called HRMOs, the abbreviation for highly-resistant micro-organisms.

Types of isolation

In this hospital, different types of isolation are used:

  • Contact isolation (to prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses via direct and indirect contact);
  • Droplet isolation (to prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses via tiny droplets via the air);
  • Airborne isolation (to prevent the spread of bacteria via the air);
  • Strict isolation (to prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses via direct and indirect contact and via the air).

The type of isolation that is required depends on the type of bacteria or virus that you might (possibly) be carrying. If you need to be in isolation, the nurse will explain why this is and what you can expect. You will also be given an explanation of the measures that the staff and your visitors must comply with in order to prevent further spread. A colour-coded card will be displayed on the door of the patient's room. The colour of the card will indicate to staff the type of isolation you are in and what additional measures they must take before entering the room.

What does being in isolation mean for you as a patient?

You will normally be in a single room during isolation. It would only be the case that you would be with other patients in the same room if there are several patients with the same infectious condition. In that case, the isolation measures will apply to all the patients in this room.

To prevent staff from spreading the infection to other patients, they will wear protective clothing, such as gloves and an apron while providing your care and treatment. With certain micro-organisms, they will also wear a mouth face mask and a cap.

In principle, you will remain in your room with the door closed. In consultation with the nurse, you may leave the room, for example, to attend rehabilitation, an examination or an operation. Usually, examinations that take place in another ward in the hospital do not need to be cancelled. The admitting ward will be informed about your arrival so that they can also take additional measures.

What does being treated in isolation mean for your visitors?

Even though you are being treated in isolation, you can still receive visitors. There will be a notice on the door for visitors, instructing them to contact the nursing staff before entering the room. They will then give them instructions about what they should do before entering the room.

In order to prevent spread to other patients, visitors must wash their hands with water and soap or using hand disinfectant alcohol in the lobby after leaving the patient's room.

For some types of isolation, it may be necessary for visitors to wear a mouth and face mask. After the visit, the visitors must remove their mouth and face masks in the lobby and place them in the bin.

In order to prevent spread to other patients, we kindly request that if your visitors wish to visit several patients, they visit the other patients first and visit you last. After visiting you, they should leave the hospital immediately.

Measures to be taken at home, after your stay in hospital

When you return home, isolation measures are no longer necessary. If you are going to a nursing or residential home, the nurse will inform them about the appropriate measures. When you are applying for home care, the home care is also informed about the appropriate measures.

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Important

Visitors of patients in isolation:
Before entering the room, please report to the nursing staff for an explanation of what you need to do.

Do you still have questions?

If you have any questions about isolation, please discuss them with the nurse on the ward.