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An occupational exposure?
Aug 18, 2012

I am a medical student and I was doing a DRE in clinic. When I took out the glove it was clean- no stool or blood at all. I am very paranoid (honestly planning to leave the profession) but I think my finger may have touched the lubrication on the glove. I never thought anything of it at first and washed that spot off with liquid soap and then my entire hand after. However, as I sat down I realized that my skin has stripped on the palmar aspect of THAT finger as a result of using too much hand sanitizer (ironic huh?). When I place 70% alcohol on the area now it does not burn but it is more sensitive than other adjacent areas, and it is approximately 2x2 cm. Of course, the palmar aspect is thick and I wouldn't say it is an open wound but there is significant skin stripping. Patient's status is unknown.

Anyway, I don't believe there is any point in speculation, my two questions are simple:

1) If my finger did touch the lubrication at the point where there is skin stripping, as described, then is there any risk of transmission?

2) If it did touch would this be an indication for ARV PEP?

Response from Dr. Young

Hi and thanks for posting.

I would not classify this event as a body fluid exposure. You do not appear to have a break in your skin, nor was their substantial exposure to blood.

Sounds like a confidential discussion with a counselor/therapist might be a worthwhile investment- while there are always risks in the profession, if your fears are potentially causing you to consider leaving, you owe it to yourself to this before deciding. Medical careers are certainly challenging, but for the right person (and career choice) medicine can be one of the most rewarding life journeys. Mine certainly has been.

Be well, BY



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