Universal Precautions

In the past, medical personnel would take precautions to protect themselves and to prevent the transmission of disease only when there was evidence of the disease, and the precautions taken were specific to the disease suspected. With the increased incidence of insidious diseases (diseases which may be infectious without any overt symptoms) the medical community has moved from Specific Precautions to adopt a more rigorous protection philosophy, called Universal Precautions. The basic tenet of Universal Precautions is quite simple: everybody is presumed to be diseased. Consequently, precautions are universally implemented to protect the practitioner, and to prevent the transmission of disease.

These precautions protect three things: the practitioner, the client, and the environment to which they are exposed, in that order. Above all, the practitioner (here the body piercer) must be protected. Because they are in contact with many clients, contamination of the practitioner increases the probability of the spread of disease. Next the client must be protected. Naturally they have a right to expect that the body piercing procedure will not place them at risk. Finally, the environment must be protected to ensure that no pathogens remain in the working area to later place the practitioner or a subsequent client at risk.

Should a situation arise where contamination is unavoidable, the piercer should allow the environment to become contaminated while protecting the client and themselves. The environment can always be cleaned up after the fact. For example, if there is unexpected bleeding from a client, the bleeding must be controlled. If this means grabbing gauze from a clean package with a contaminated glove, so be it. The package will be discarded afterward. (In a body piercing situation, there are no conceivable circumstances which would justify a body piercer contaminating a client in order to protect themselves.)

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