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risk of transmision of a health care student PLEASE HELP ME
Jul 8, 2009

Hi my name is Daniel and I am a med student in Colombia,2 month ago during my intership in the ER, a patient with an unknown HIV status came to the ER since he had a head injury, one of the doctors in the ER was applying lidocaine to his scalp in order to close his injury, AS HE TRIED TO INJECT his scalp he pressed hard and some anesthesia from the area he was applying it in the head, I think mixed with a little blood, flew in the air and hit my eye, a drop I think. I immideatly washed myself my eye with lots of water. Its been two month and I am worried sick of having contracted HIV, is this a big risk shall I b worried what should I do. Another thing that worries me is that I had to sexual encounters with my girlfriend unprotected, and I worry that I could transmit her something in case I got infected with that drop of lidocaine(maybe mixed with unknown status blood. Should i be worried about me and her? please help me

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi Daniel,

Perhaps the most important lesson to be learned from this experience is that all occupational exposures (and potential occupational exposures) to HIV need to be reported, documented and evaluated immediately. All medical facilities have policies and procedures in place for evaluating and treating occupational exposures. In your case the source patient's HIV status could have been evaluated. Also, if indicated, you could have had a baseline HIV test performed. It's difficult to accurately evaluate an occupational exposure over the Internet. However, from what you've written, I would advise you that your HIV-acquisition risk is negligible, at best. You can still report this incident to the occupational health division of your medical training program. Consideration could be given to obtaining an HIV test at the three- and six-month marks if they felt you had a significant exposure after discussing this incident with you in greater detail. If it is decided that testing is warranted, you should use latex condoms with your girlfriend until your negative status can be re-confirmed. You can download a copy of the guidelines for evaluating and treating occupational HIV exposures at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5409a1.htm .

Good luck.

Dr. Bob



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