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Blood test infant question please extremely worried parent
Sep 18, 2011

Dear Doctor, I have a rather unusual question , I am sure that you were probably asked this before but I could not find it in the archives. I will tell you the whole story to make things clearer. We live in a Western European country where Hepatitis B vaccine is not universally implemented( one of the few, but that is a different matter) therefore I specially requested a course for my baby. The baby was administered a Hepatitis B vaccine when he was few months old. Unfortunately when we were to give him the second shot one month later it came to light that the first shot was out of date by almost 2 months. I therefore requested a blood test to see the response after 3 shots at a distance of 1 month each including the out of date one to see whether we need more shots or not at this time or whether we delay the 4th shot to ve given 12 months after the 1st. We opten for the rapid schedule as the baby is already 8 months and would like for him to get antibodies as fast as possible as we also travel a lot. I took my baby to the clinic to be taken blodd. It was a finger prick test and very messy procedure blood was everywhere on the nurse's gloves. The other nurse that was helping her put gloves on too and gave her the little recipients that were collecting blood in. She then took her gloves off and proceeded to put a cotton wool and a bandage on my baby's bleeding finger. Unfortunately when she came to put the bandage on I noticed on the back of her thumb some smeared blood, could of been from my son's blood recipient, could of been that she had a cut, or could of been another patient's blood if perhaps she touched a surface around the testing room. I mention that they were disposing of the used bloody cotton wools and gloves in 2 big plastic bags similar to bin bags, which they would of probably touched the edge. I should of asked then but it all happened so fast and then I thought that because it was on the back of her thumb she did not touch my baby with it assumedly. Now the question is could he be exposed to Hepatitis B, C or HIV through this manner? Shall I test him for this in the near future? I need to mention that this was at a big hospital where also adults go for blood tests. It looked clean but I do not know what she touched between the time she took the gloves off and the time she put the bandage on my son's hand. She was arranging the blood samples that is all I remember. Is it possible that there was invisible blood containing any blood borne viruses around the trolley where all the gear for blood test is and that got transferred to her hand which she then used to take the cotton wool and squeeze it in her palm to make it smoother then transfer anything to my baby's bleeding finger? What are the chances that he could of been infected. Now I am trying to be reasonable as when they take blood from adults it would not be so messy, it would be by using the needle and vacutainer so the chances of blood spillage that the nurse would touch would be quite low but of course I am still worried and I wish I said something then. I mention that here the use of gloves by nurses when they take blood is not compulsory, they can opt out if they wish to do so. I would kindly appreciate your response.

Response from Dr. McGovern

I would strongly doubt that your baby is at risk. From the way you describe the event, it is almost certain that the blood you saw was your baby's. You can discuss this with your pediatrician but I would not suggest testing myself.

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