Sep 18, 2001
I am a nursing student and helped start an IV on a HIV and HCV/HBV positive individual. Some blood was on his arm from the catheter, so I wiped it up (gloves on) and then took them off. Following this, I helped tape the IV down on the same arm (without gloves). Although there was not any visible blood still there (I think) and I had no visible cuts on my hands (I think) i am still concerned about the risk of contracting HIV or HCV from a situation like this. I washed my hands after the encounter thoroughly. What is your opinion of any transmission risk and are there any documented cases of something like this that you know of? I am fairly sure that if there was blood contact it was with not enough to actually see and on skin with no significant wounds. Thanks
Response from Ms. Breuer
Thank you for providing enough detail for a thorough response. What you describe sounds like a situation in which it is highly unlikely that you came into contact with any bloodborne pathogen. And even if you did, you did the best thing you could possibly have done by washing carefully with soap and water. Since there was no visible blood and you washed well right away, I think you just walked through an important stage in your own professional education without actually risking infection.
Perhaps the gloves came off a bit too soon? I don't know what protocol you're being taught, but keeping the gloves on a bit longer could have prevented your anxiety. No, I know of no documented case of HIV infection from this kind of contact in the absence of visible blood. I know much less about HCV and can't address that one.
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