How is doctor-patient viral conjunctivitis (pink eye) transmission prevented?

Updated: Mar 24, 2020
  • Author: Ingrid U Scott, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Andrew A Dahl, MD, FACS  more...
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Answer

Physicians have been sued by patients who believe they acquired viral conjunctivitis in the doctor's office. Every attempt to prevent transmission from patient to patient (not to mention to the doctor) should be made. Suggestions include not having patients with a red eye wait in the general waiting room, having a special examination room for patients with red eyes, disinfecting the examination room after seeing any patient with a red eye, not shaking hands with patients with red eye (after explaining the reason to them), touching their eyelids with cotton-tipped applicators and not your fingers, washing the hands immediately after examining the patient (even before writing in the chart or using the computer), and not giving the chart to the patient to bring to the receptionist. These patients should be escorted directly out of the clinic and instructed to make a follow-up appointment by telephone at least 2 weeks thereafter.

Viral conjunctivitis is an occupational hazard of eye care providers. Doctors, technicians, and every staff member must take all precautions possible not to become a victim.


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