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Inpatient isolation to help prevent infection


The doctor has placed your child in isolation because of an infection that could spread to other patients in the hospital. Isolation is used to help prevent the spread of infection. The doctor can tell you the type of bacteria or virus your child has that requires isolation. The entire time your child is in isolation, a sign on the patient room door will show the type of isolation precautions needed. The sign will tell people coming into the room what type of personal protective equipment they need to wear while they are in the patient room.

Infection control guidelines to prevent spread of infection for all isolation types:

  • The most important thing you can do for your child’s health is to clean your hands often. This means either washing well with soap and water or using the alcohol gel offered outside each patient room. Cleaning your hands well is the best way to prevent the spread of infection. See “Do you know… Clean Hands” to learn the best ways to clean your hands.
  • Everyone must wash their hands with soap and water or use alcohol gel before entering and after leaving the patient room.
  • For some infections, the staff might ask you to clean your hands with soap and water only, instead of using alcohol-based hand cleaners. This is because not all bacteria are killed by alcohol. Sometimes rubbing your hands with soap and water is the only way to remove certain germs. If your child has this type of infection, you might see a sign on the door that reads, “Cleaning hands with water and soap is required.”
  • Be sure if you have other appointments in the hospital that you clean your hands before going to those appointments. This limits the spread of infection.
  • You should also wear gloves when touching any soiled items in the patient room. You should wear gloves when emptying bedpans, helping the patient to the toilet, handling urine or stool, or changing diapers. You must wash your hands after removing gloves.
  • Patients, parents, and caregivers should wash hands with soap and water after using the toilet, changing diapers, and cleaning up a child who has used the toilet.
  • Any food or beverages that enter a patient room must not be placed in the refrigerators on the inpatient unit. If you want to bring food from outside the hospital, it can be placed in the Family Lounge refrigerator first. Then, you can take portions to your child’s room. Once food enters a patient room, the uneaten portion must be thrown away. It must not be placed back in the refrigerator.
  • Food in the patient’s room should be thrown away after it has been open for one (1) hour.
  • We recommend that caregivers have the patient’s food delivered by hospital room service when possible to decrease the risk of infection.
  • Food from room service will come on throwaway trays.
  • Liquids from food trays should be flushed down the toilet.
  • Try to limit the number of personal items in the room, so all surfaces can be cleaned well by Environmental Services.
  • Only solid surface toys should be in the isolation room, and they must be cleaned before they are taken out of the room.
  • Personal clothes should be bagged in a personal belonging bag before being taken out of the room. If possible, wash them in hot water with bleach.
  • Before entering an isolation room, anyone who is not a parent (caregiver) must put on the required personal protective equipment that is posted on the door. Because parents are in close contact with the child for extended periods of time in the hospital, the hospital does not require parents to wear the same protective equipment as staff and visitors while they are in the patient’s room. However, in certain situations, parents are asked to wear facemasks while they are in the patient’s room for their own protection.
  • Parents of a child in isolation precautions should limit trips to other parts of the hospital to avoid possibly spreading their child’s infection. Parents of children in isolation precautions should never enter other patient rooms or have close contact with other patients or their parents.
  • Visitors who are not parents or caregivers and are not staying in the room for extended periods of time (overnight), must wear the same protective gear as hospital staff, even if they are family members. For some types of isolation, visitors and siblings are not allowed in the patient room.
  • When leaving the room for testing, the patient and parent might have to wear personal protective equipment. This may include a gown, face mask, and gloves. You might have to do this even if you have not been wearing these items in your child’s room.


If you have any questions about your child’s stay in an isolation room, please talk to your child’s doctor or nurse.


This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.

St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.

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