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Surgical resident with a worry
Sep 15, 2010

Hi dr bob. I have a question for u and I really hope that you answer me. I don't know who else to turn to. I'm a surgical resident. On top of that I have some OCD behaviors as well. It will occasionally happen that after surgery I inspect my hands upon removing my gloves to find a small cut on my hand. Just recently I had a cut on my finger and I have no clue how it got there. During surgery I did brush up against some instruments but I didnt really feel a sharp prick or poke. However afterwards I had a fresh looking cub on my fingers. This is not the first time this has happened. When I called occupational health about this in the past they have reassured me that if I didn't feel a deep stick then I have nothing to worry about. However especially wig my OCD I find myself worrying obsessively about putting myself and wife at risk for acquiring HIV and other bloodborne infections.

What's your opinion on this issue. I know that even if I did have something then my risk would be low because of a superficial wound but I'm sick and tired of reeling that I have put myself at risk constantly. As I said this has happened to me multiple times. I must be the clumsiest resident always cuttin myself but I never feel the pricks during surgery. However I usually only notice the cuts when I remove my gloves. Please please give me your opinion and help me on this issue. I would really appreciate your input as you are definitely very knowledgable and experienced on this topic. Thank you so much and I will donate to your charity.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

All potential occupational exposures should be reported, documented and evaluated by occupational health. They will advise whether your exposure was significant enough to warrant any intervention such as HIV testing or PEP.

It's concerning that your OCD coupled with your current career path has resulted in persistent obsessive worry about putting yourself and your wife at risk for HIV and other blood-borne pathogens. I would suggest you seek psychotherapy (counseling) to help you confront and conquer your irrational fears. Ultimately you may need to consider a noninvasive medical subspecialty if your OCD continues to spin OOC (out of control).

Good luck.

Dr. Bob



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