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hep C exposure healthcare worker
Jul 15, 2007

I work as a volunteer at the VA( first time dealing with blood). Today after I centrifuged some blood from an old black male(HepC positive/unknown HIV) I was putting the plasma into cryovials. I splashed a drop on my face.I know I did because I felt a small cold drop next to my mouth but not close to it(between my cheek and mouth) . The pipette I was using had formed a bubble on the end and when I pushed the air it caused the bubble to pop. I was wearing goggles and gloves and a coat but no mask! Ok here comes my stupidest mistake! The minute I felt the drop or speck(I dont know)I just brushed it off with my sleeve as a reflex and continued with my work ( did not wash it off!!!).I did not perceive it as a risk since it was on skin i jus nonchalantly brushed it off( I did not know I was dealing with infected blood).I am always careful but when the time came to be really careful when dealing with any kind of blood I let myself down!I didnt think about it till I went home that day and the next day reported the incident to occupational health. The doctor examined my skin and in his report wrote that it was a low risk exposure, he examined my skin as intact with no abrasions or cuts. My biggest worry is that I did have tiny bumps on my face but not inflammed acne.Would the viruses have found their way through my skin because of prolonged contact? 1. Would that be non intact skin? 2.What is my risk for contracting HepC/HIV? I am about to lose my mind over this possible exposure. . 3.Also, would the amount of time that the blood had been outside his body(4 hrs) and the fact that it had centrifuged for 20 minutes have lowered any possible risks?

The occupational health doctor is testing me for HIV/HepC/HepB even though the pt is Hep B immune. I got tested at week 4 with PCR testing for HepC and it came back negative. Tomorrow is my 6 week testing... am very scared

Is my 4 week testing a good indicator of negative status?? Do help

Response from Dr. McGovern

The description of your event does not appear to be of any concern. Blood to intact skin should not be a risk.

I think it would be best to undergo more classes about the handling of blood so this type of exposure should not cause you so much concern and anxiety. I also am unsure of the procedures you were doing which should be checked by a laboratory personnel worker to ensure safety of your approach.

You were correct to see occupational health right away and should do so anytime you have an exposure.



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