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suture needle stick
Dec 1, 2003

Dr. Bob, I'm a 3rd year med student; about 1 month ago I was suturing an arm laceration (with 3-0 ethilon) on a trauma patient and stuck my finger with the suture needle through my glove. I washed with soap/water, betadine, alcohol - but I did bleed. Patient was HIV Negative per Ora Quick test in ER. I stupidly failed to report the stick and never got PEP. I have been in denial for the past month but now that has ended. I have had no prodrome symptoms. My baseline status is HIV negative, my last test was 6 years ago and I have not engaged in any activity to change that status. I understand my risk is virtually 0, but I will follow up with an HIV test in 3 months. I was planning on taking the home access test, is that sufficient? Is there another or different test I need? Thank you

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

If you indeed "understand my risk is virtually 0," why are you wondering about additional testing?

Suture needles are solid and therefore less likely to transmit blood-borne pathogens. That the patient was HIV-negative per OraQuick in the ER further decreases any potential risk. You've had no ARS symptoms.

So what should you do? First of all, report the incident! All ER's have protocols for occupational exposures and screening for blood-borne pathogens. Hepatitis is a bigger risk for you than HIV. Follow the protocol. These guidelines were developed to protect you and ensure appropriate evaluation. You can still report the incident, even though it occurred a month ago. That's the best advice I can give you.

Good luck and welcome to your clinical years of training!

Dr. Bob



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