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Emergency Room HIV Transmission Risk
May 25, 2009

I thought I would try again. If you can please answer i would be most grateful. I was in hospital other night for tentanus shot due to puncture wound on finger. Nurse didn't wear gloves or wash her hands before cleaning bleeding wound. She washed it with gauze she soaked in some water solution from an un-opened bottle. Not knowing which patient she saw before me and if she had any hiv infected blood or substance on her hand from previous patient, can I be at risk for HIV? You would think with universal precautions she would have worn gloves or at least cleaned her hands. She did though clean her hands after me. I would really appreciate your response. Very scared and trying to tell myself that virus doesn't live outside the body long and needs direct contact and even called CDC which said shouldn't be risk, but still would like to know your response. Thank you very much.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

Yes, when dealing with any type of bleeding wound, latex gloves should be used. However, the risk of HIV from the ER episode you describe is nonexistent. The nurse had much more to fear from you (you were bleeding!) than vice versa. I concur with the CDC on this one: no risk to you.

Dr. Bob



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