Cough Etiquette: A Must-Know Guide for Healthcare Workers.

In the healthcare sector, cough etiquette is an essential aspect of infection prevention and control. Proper cough etiquette helps to minimize the spread of respiratory infections, including COVID-19, flu, and other respiratory
illnesses. As a healthcare worker, it is vital to follow the best practices of cough etiquette to protect yourself, your colleagues, and your patients.

What is cough etiquette?

Cough etiquette refers to a set of guidelines that promote safe and hygienic coughing practices. The aim is to minimize the spread of germs and protect others from infection. The most important components of cough etiquette are covering your mouth and nose when you cough, using a tissue or your elbow, and practicing
good hand hygiene.

Why is cough etiquette so important?

Cough etiquette is essential for healthcare workers especially nurses and support workers, as they may interact with various patients with different health conditions, making them more vulnerable to respiratory infections. Adhering to proper cough etiquette can help prevent the spread of infectious diseases, ensure a safe work environment, and promote better patient outcomes.

Best Practices of Cough Etiquette for Healthcare Workers.

Healthcare workers should follow the best practices of cough etiquette, as detailed:

  1. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow when coughing or sneezing. 
  2. Dispose of used tissues immediately and properly.
  3. Wear a mask if you are experiencing symptoms of any respiratory illness.
  4. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  5. Maintain an appropriate distance of at least 1m from others when coughing or sneezing.

What’s wrong with using a ‘hanky’?

Disposable tissues are preferred over cloth handkerchiefs for covering your coughs and sneezes when you have a cold or the flu. This is because a cloth handkerchief can act as a breeding ground for the germs that are causing the infection. Carrying a used handkerchief around when you are sick may spread your germs.

What if I can’t find a bin for my tissues?

If you have to go out when you have a cold or the flu, and you cannot get to a bin to dispose of your used tissues, try carrying a small plastic bag to collect them in until they can be disposed of properly.

I sneeze a lot from dust and when I have hay fever. Is this a problem too?

Although you may not have an infection at this time it is normal for the nose and mouth to contain some bacteria. Cough etiquette is still a good habit to continue at all times to prevent spreading germs.

By practicing good cough etiquette, you can protect yourself and others from infection. It’s a simple but effective way to stay healthy and promote public health.