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Splinter removal with pin
Sep 5, 2010

Hi Doctor, Something happened today that has me pretty upset, and I'm hoping you can shed some light on the situation. At work today, I noticed that I had a little splinter or something in my forearm, so I started to try and dig it out, which made the area bleed a little bit. It wasn't working, so I decided I needed something a bit more precise than my nails. I grabbed a little pin that had been sitting in its bin, untouched for about 10 minutes or more (like a thumbtack, but used at work to attach anti-theft sensors to clothing), visually checked it for any blood or anything (I didn't see anything), and cleaned the metal pin part with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, rubbing the sanitizer on the tip to make sure it was clean. I then set it down before proceeding further for either a few seconds or maybe up to a few minutes, I don't remember how long, and this is the part that bothers me. In the time in between my cleaning it and my subsequent digging out of the splinter, someone may have come and pricked themselves with the pin that I then dug around in my little, already-bleeding splinter wound. I think I had put it under an elevated keyboard at a cash register (where it would be difficult to touch), and I believe it was in the same position when I grabbed it again. I didn't see anyone go near it, but I wasn't really watching, and my manager (of unknown status) may have come by and encountered it, though I don't really recall anyone coming near. I'm just so uncertain; I can't remember for the life of me if I left it out and someone pricked himself on it in between my cleaning it and using it. If my manager had pricked himself with the pin just a minute or less before I then took a splinter out from an already-bleeding cut, would I be at risk for HIV or HCV? Or would the amount of blood (if any) left on a pin from a little accidental prick not be enough to transmit HIV or HCV via my little bleeding cut? My splinter wound was not deep, but it was widened and bleeding a bit from my having tried to get it out previously. I have no evidence that this happened, but the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence. Was I at risk, and should I be tested? I am sick to my stomach with anxiety.

Response from Dr. McGovern

I would not be concerned about this event. I would not recommend testing either. I hope this helps.



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