Isolation rooms are special hospital rooms that keep patients with
certain medical conditions separate from other people while they receive
Sometimes isolation rooms use negative air pressure to help prevent
contagious diseases (such as tuberculosis or flu) from escaping the room and
infecting other people. This means that air is constantly being pulled into the
room by a machine that then filters the air before it is moved outside. In a
negative air pressure room, you may be able to feel air being sucked into the
room under a closed door or through a slightly opened window.
In other cases, such as when a patient has a weakened immune
system, positive air pressure may be used to keep contagious diseases out of
the room. In a positive air pressure room, clean, filtered air is constantly
pumped into the room from outside. This prevents "contaminated" air from getting
in. With this type of isolation room, you may be able to feel air blowing out
of the room under a closed door.
Patients who are being treated in isolation may be allowed to have
visitors. But all visitors and hospital workers who enter the room almost
always wear masks, gowns, and gloves to prevent the spread of contagious
diseases. Everyone entering or leaving the room needs to wash his or her hands
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & W. David Colby IV, MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease
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