› Neutropenic Precautions

Neutropenic Precautions

Neutropenic means having a low neutrophil count.

Neutrophils, a type of white blood cell will protect the body by attacking bacteria and other invading organisms. When the Neutrophil count is low, the patient has little resistance to infection. Therefore they are put on precautions to protect them from as many sources of bacteria, viruses, protozoans and other sources of illness.

Many cancer patients have this condition due the the chemotherapy they must undergo. But any severely compromised or immune suppressed patient is usually put on this precaution. 

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As with other precautions, there is usually a notice attached to the door of the patient's room to bring these requirements to the attention of anyone who enters. While the actual precautions are simple, it isn't always easy. But being rushed and careless can cost your patient big time.

This type of precaution can also be called Protective Precaution or Reverse Isolation. 

What EVERYONE Must Do During Neutropenic Precautions


Clean hands when entering and leaving the room or when touching surfaces in the room.

  • No one with an infection may enter.
  • No dried or live plants or flowers.
  • No fresh fruits or vegetables.

What Hospital Staff Must Do


Follow Standard Precautions which includes:

  • Wear gown and gloves if they will be in contact with body fluids 
  • Wear a face mask and eye protection if splash or spray of body fluids is likely
  • Clean hands before and after glove, gun and mask/eye protection use

WHat the Patient Must Do

medical mask mask
  • Is placed in a private room sometimes with positive pressure so that air flows out of the room so any bacteria and harmful organisms are carried with the flow.
  • Wear a face mask when leaving the room (for example, when transported to other departments in the hospital).

But There Is always A Snag In the System

Because nursing is never simple or straightforward, let me throw a wrench into this procedure. While many (do I dare say most?) facilities will have Protective Precautions, the CDC has eliminated it. See the CDC chart here. 

They do not see any efficacy in the practice and so, have removed it from their recommendations. Actually, they eliminated it back in 1983! 

The good thing is, you as a nurse aren't doing anything other than standard precautions for this debunked procedure. The patient is the one doing something extra, using a mask and paying for the private room. 

Related Pages

Basic Nursing Skills

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