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Exposure to Eye

Apr 15, 2011


I am a student nurse. At my most recent clinical I was emptying out a JP drain from a patient's abdomen. Her drains had minimal fluids about 7cc, and they had been collecting for approximately 8 hours before I emptied it.

As I was pouring out the cups and rinsing them over the sink, I felt a small prick of pressure on my right eye. I'm not sure if it as my nerves or an actual splash since no other place on my face felt wet, just that one pin point on my eye.

I was afraid to bring it up to my clinical instructor because I didn't want to get in trouble for carelessness. I don't know what to do at this point. I will get tested in the next few days and do more follow up testing.

Do you have any advice or opinoin as far as my risks? I know that eye contamination is quite small, and I'm wondering if the fact that it's from a JP drain for 8 hours, being exposed to oxygen and not a core body temp (though it was on the patient's warm body surface) would also decrease the viral load?

I'm in a monogamous relationship with my boyfriend and now I'm scared about what to do!

Thank you for helping out a terrified student.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Terrified Student,

What's this nonsense about being afraid to report a potential occupational exposure to your clinical instructor??? You were not being careless. And even if you were, no one will get into trouble by reporting a potential exposure! Had you done so, you wouldn't be freaking out now, because the incident would have been documented; the source patient's HIV status could have been checked, if needed; and you would have received an assessment (most likely "no risk") and a plan (most likely no testing needed or routine screening immediately and at three and six months).

My advice is that you go ahead and report the incident, even though it's after the fact.

Dr. Bob

Dumb Old Man
How worried should I be?

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