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Doctor Bob! This Doctor needs HELP !

Dec 1, 2004

Hi Doc! I hope you answer this one. I am a medical intern in Ireland and one of my jobs would include some phlebotomy work and cannula insertions.

To cut a long story short, I have been taking blood and inserting cannulas into this 60 year old lady whom we didn't know was HIV+ until recently. Seeing that she is a sweet old lady with no apparent risk factors, at times I've neglected to wear gloves when doing my phlebotomy work. Now, while sometimes I would get a bit of blood on my hands and my tournique( non-disposable ones from my drug rep ), I have never had a needle stick involving that particular lady (or anyone else for that matter). The problem is, I have this terrible habit of picking my nose. Assuming that there are tiny specks of blood in my finger, either directly from the patient or from the tornique, do you think it is a significant exposure? Do I need to go to the Occupation Health Department immediately? Please help doc! I am pretty worried !

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

Go to Occupational Health for digging bats out of the cave? No, I would not consider this a risk. Several things I would suggest:

1. Always remember universal precautions to prevent blood-borne pathogens are indeed meant to be universal. That includes drawing blood from sweet old ladies!

2. Stop picking your nose. It's disgusting.

3. Go wash your hands. You're getting boogers all over your computer mouse.

4. Stop worrying.

Dr. Bob



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