Hepatitis C: An In-Depth Guide


Routine practices and universal precautions

“Routine Practices,” also known as “Universal Precautions” or “Infection Control Procedures,” refer to practices that help prevent the spread of infections between service providers and their clients, usually in healthcare settings. These precautions protect both the healthcare worker and the client during times when body fluids may be present. 

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) advises healthcare workers to:

  • Act as though blood and all body fluids are potentially infectious.
  • Report any needle-stick injuries to a supervisor or manager immediately.

For personal protection:

  • Wear gloves when in contact with blood or other body fluids, excrement or non-intact skin.
  • Wear gloves when in contact with articles such as clothing or surfaces that have been contaminated with blood or body fluids, and while cleaning or decontaminating an area.
  • Wear gloves when performing venipuncture or any other procedure involving blood.
  • Replace torn or punctured gloves immediately.
  • Wear a new pair of gloves for every client.

Protective eyewear, masks, face shields and extra clothing are not needed for clinic or office visits or for nursing care of people with Hep C. However, wearing protective eyewear, a mask or face shield and a gown during any procedure where droplets of blood or other body fluids may be produced is recommended. 

Protective wear is not only to protect the healthcare worker but for the client’s protection as well. Universal precautions can prevent the spread of infections to clients or patients while undergoing a procedure.

Hand-washing is very important:

  • before and after direct patient contact
  • immediately when there has been any contact with blood or other body fluid
  • after removing gloves

Household precautions for people living with Hep C

Universal precautions can also be followed at home, especially for people living with Hep C, in order to prevent the transmission of the virus to others. Casual contact, such as sharing household items (dishes, cups and glasses) is not a risk. But blood, body fluids and items that come in contact with blood are possibly infectious. Cleaning up blood spills and not sharing household grooming equipment (such as razors, nail clippers and toothbrushes) will keep people and their families safe from hepatitis C and other infections.

Precautions for cleaning up blood spills

When cleaning up blood spills, the following steps are important for preventing the spread of blood-borne infections like hepatitis C:

  • Wear gloves—torn gloves will not protect the hands from coming into contact with the blood.
  • Carefully remove any sharp pieces, such as broken glass, and put them in a sturdy plastic container like one used for detergents.
  • Wipe up the blood using paper towel or disposable rags and cloths.
  • Disinfect the area with a solution of at 1 part bleach to 9 parts water.
  • Wipe up the bleach solution using paper towel or disposable rags and cloths.
  • Dispose of the gloves, paper towel, rags and cloths into a durable bag.
  • Wash hands thoroughly.

Revised 2011.