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Hospital Not Cooperating after Possible Blood Contamination
Mar 16, 2004

I recently went to the emergency room for a serious cut on my hand and received some less than par treatment from the nurse there. At the end of my visit, the doctor asked her to dress my wound. As she came to wipe my hand down one more time after I was stitched up, I noticed as she got the gauze close to my hand and started cleaning it that what I saw was some fresh blood that was definitely not mine! The nurse tried to claim it was okay and blew it off. In the end, I made sure that I was tested for HIV not knowing that there are a number of other things that I should be tested for. I feel as though I have been "dooped" by the hospital as they would not have done anything if I had not demanded so. I have since been trying to contact someone to be tested for further contamination such as Hep B and others. The hospital is trying to claim either that it never happened or that the contaminated gauze did not touch my wound, but just near it. I am at least happy that I recieved a case number, but am not getting anywhere. I do not want to sue anyone unecessarily, but am I overreacting? Thier reaction makes me feel as though perhaps I am, or could they just be scared of liability? What steps should I take from here and what do I need to be concerned with in terms of diseases?

Response from Ms. Breuer

The scenario you describe is confusing, but from what I understand, you are concerned about possible blood contamination of your open wound by contaminated gauze. If anyone treated you using blood-contaminated gauze, you have experienced a serious violation of public health laws. Rather than trying to get the hospital to act against itself, you might have more success by contacting your public health department and filing a complaint about the incident. In the course of filing that complaint, please ask your public health officials what follow-up tests they believe you need. I think you will find a more objective analysis of your exposure, if there was one, from a party that is not actively defending itself.

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