Universal Precautions

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Full Policy Contents

Policy Statement
Reason for Policy

Additional Contacts
Related Information

Effective: 01/17/2017
Last Updated: 05/19/2018

Responsible University Office:
Medical Student Education

Responsible University Administrator
Phase 2 Assistant Dean; Phase 3 Assistant Dean

Policy Contact:

RESPONSIBLE Phase 2 Assistant Dean; Phase 3 Assistant Dean
ACCOUNTABLE Senior associate dean for medical student education
SUPPORT Assistant dean for student records and promotion
CONSULT General counsel
Campus Health (aka Student Health)
Educational Policy Subcommittee
INFORM Educational Policy Subcommittee
Learning Technology, Medical Student Education

LCME Standards

12.8 Student Exposure Policies / Procedures


This policy affects medical students.

Policy Statement

A medical school has policies in place that effectively address medical student exposure to infectious and environmental hazards, including the following:

  • The education of medical students about methods of prevention
  • The procedures for care and treatment after exposure, including a definition of financial responsibility.

All IUSM students will receive education of universal precautions and are required to comply with the universal precaution instructions to engage in educational activity in the clinical setting.

IUSM students working in the laboratory or clinical simulations (such as teaching sessions that involve practice on volunteers or fellow students) or with patients should follow these standard precautions at all times:

  1. Always wash your hands or use a hand sanitizer before and after touching a patient, after using the restroom, and after touching a contaminated surface. Infections are caused by bacteria or viruses, which are most commonly spread by unwashed hands.
  2. Consider all blood, all body fluids, and all mucous membranes or non-intact skin from all patients to be infectious.
  3. Wear gloves when exposure to blood, body fluids, mucous membranes, or non-intact skin may occur. Change your gloves and wash your hands after each procedure and before contact with another patient.
  4. Wear a mask and protective eyewear (or face shield) when blood or body fluids may splash into your face.
  5. Wear a fluid-resistant gown during activity that may generate splashes or sprays of blood, body fluids, secretions, or excretions.
  6. Do not recap needles or sharps after use. Place all disposable sharps into puncture-proof containers immediately after use. Locate the designated container before you begin the procedure.
  7. Always use needle-safety devices when available and activate the safety feature.

Reason for Policy

To prevent and control the spread of communicable diseases from employees and medical students in the health care setting to patients, visitors, other employees, and third parties.

Personal responsibility: The learning and practice of medicine involves exposure to infectious agents. Personal risk can be minimized by intelligent attention to immunization, standard precautions and other preventive measures.

Professional responsibility: IUSM subscribes to the AAMC’s statement of professional responsibility in treating patients with HIV, adopted by the Executive Council of the AAMC Feb. 25, 1988:

Medical students, residents, and faculty have a fundamental responsibility to provide care to all patients assigned to them, regardless of diagnosis. A failure to accept this responsibility violates a basic tenet of the medical profession – to place the patient’s interest and welfare first.


Approved by the Curriculum Council Steering Committee 1/17/2017.


At the beginning of each academic year, all IUSM students are required to complete a self-paced online training module about universal precautions. Students receive a certificate of completion, which is recorded and retained as proof of completion. Laminated cards are distributed to all students that contain information about universal standard precautions, which include personal protective equipment and steps to take in case of exposure, including follow-up care at a local health care provider. A second card is distributed that contains emergency phone numbers and the HIV post-exposure protocol.

Each campus has procedures appropriate for its specific clinical teaching situations. The procedures for exposure care are designed to provide assessment and care that is comparable to the services supplied to an employee or physician at the clinical location.

When certain events occur, students must visit their local health services location (a statewide list is available in the Student Handbook at https://medicine.iu.edu/education/md/student-support/health-wellness/) or call IUPUI Campus Health. These events include needlesticks or other contaminated injuries; exposure to active cases of tuberculosis; mucous membrane exposure to blood borne pathogens; exposure to varicella; and active enteral infection with salmonella or shigella. To further assist with delivery of these

exposure care services, a nurse or physician is available 24 hours a day on pager 317-312-OUCH (317-312-6824). Students who sustain a needlestick or other contaminated injury should use the OUCH pager immediately. Students exposed to or exhibiting signs and symptoms of contagious diseases, including but not limited to varicella and viral conjunctivitis, should go to a health services location to be seen as soon as possible. If the situation occurs when the health service locations are closed, the student can page the OUCH pager for further assistance.

The regional campuses have additional policies that require their students to notify certain entities of these exposure events, such as the course instructor and/or lab director when an event occurs in class or employee health services when an event occurs in a hospital.

The treatments required for medical students following an exposure to bloodborne pathogens, tuberculosis, or other pathogens are covered by the required student insurance policy. IUPUI Campus Health and several other campus and facility locations provide these services at no cost to students.


Education of these topics are required to be tracked through educational modules. Failure to comply with these requirements could result in professionalism deficiencies.

Additional Contacts

Subject Contact Phone Email
Assistant dean for medical student education Antwione Haywood (317) 278-2891 haywooda@iu.edu
Deputy general counsel Joseph Scodro, J.D. (317) 274-5277 jscodro@iu.edu

Related Information

Accommodations for Exposure to Infectious Agents Policy.


Approved by Curriculum Council Steering Committee 1/17/2017
Updated 02/10/2017 to reflect change in responsibility.
Minor change: responsibility change and student handbook link updated 05/19/2018