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Did I get exposed?

Jul 3, 2007

Dr. Bob,

I am going crazy I think..Here is my story. I was in a trauma case a few months ago (I am a medical resident) and this patient had HIV/HEP C retrospectively (was tested for it by yours truly after the case because of anxiety).

Anyways, a collegue of mine pushed me away to throw "something" into the sharps container. By the time I turned my head around "it" was already in the container. I don't know what "it" was. It happened so fast..I am just thinking to myself that what if it was one of the arterial line 20 gauge stylets used to start an arterial line that somehow stuck me in the shoulder or back and I did not feel it? I really did not feel anything...I bring this up to my collegue the next day and the collegue does not remember sticking anyone in the back...So, I did not report this incident but checked this pt. anyway for HIV and HEP C which came back positive...this made me much more anxious. I plan on getting tested soon (about 3 months since incidient)...I just hope I dont' get HIV or HEP C....I have had absoluetely no symptoms for acute hep atitis and/or HIV.....what do you think?? Am I total basket case?

med resident.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Medical Resident,

Be reasonable. Do you really think a 20-gauge stylet could be jammed into your shoulder or back and you not feel it???? If you are at all uncertain, I would suggest you do your own independent research project. Get several 20-gauge stylets (sterile!) and then jab them into various body parts to see if you notice you've been stabbed. I'm quite confident you'll be yelling "ouch!" or perhaps some other more colorful expletive!

I do not feel you need HIV or hep C screening. However, you may well need some counseling regarding your irrational fears of HIV and hepatitis. Your career in medicine is just beginning. You need to address this problem now or find a medical subspecialty that does not involve direct patient care.

Good luck.

Dr. Bob

nPEP advice

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