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HIV from operating room exposure
Jun 15, 2009

I revised this question to be more specific to the topic at hand. Anyways, two weeks ago I was shadowing in an operating room and I scratched my arm on a dull, external fixation device that had blood (probably dried) on it from a surgery 15 minutes prior. The patients blood borne disease status was unknown but she was a middle aged white female who had been in a motorcycle accident. The wound did not bleed (or even seem to leak any clear fluid) but it left a red scratch. I washed it right afterward with iodine based soap. Is there any real risk of HIV from this incident? I just got an HIV test recently because I am in a new relationship do I now need another one because of this incident? Should I be worried about this exposure or can I just let it go and not think about it again?

Thanks

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

As I have stated multiple times in this forum, all occupational exposures (or even potential occupational exposures) should be reported immediately to the occupational medicine division of your hospital (or clinic). Policies and procedures are in place in all healthcare facilities to quickly evaluate and document these incidents and provide the health care worker with whatever she needs, from reassurance to HIV testing to the provision of post-exposure prophylaxis when indicated. Following this established protocol would then prevent worries like yours and would have the secondary beneficial effect of decreasing the number of questions in my inbox from health care workers struggling with similar conundrums!

Occupational exposures are difficult to evaluate over the Internet, as the information provided is limited and a physical examination cannot be performed. However, from what you've written, your HIV- and bloodborne disease-risk appears to be negligible to nonexistent.

Good luck.

Dr. Bob



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