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infection risk during surgical procedure
Sep 30, 2001

I recently had minor dermatological back surgery. I saw the physician reading magazines immediately prior to this surgery. He then came into the exam room & drew up a syringe of medicine to numb the surgical area. My question is would it be possible for there to have been blood or body fluids on the magazines & then when he touched the cap it would have been transferred to his hands. He then performed the surgery on me. For information purposes, he drew up the medicine in the syringe prior to placing gloves on, hence the cap of the syringe touched his bare hands which had been on dirty magazines. My surgery involved an open wound with an open entry into my bloodstream for a brief period of time. My wound was then cauterized. Is this a potential exposure or am I imagining things. Could there have been HIV on the magazines & then it be transferred to his hands. I am very worried about this. I would think that he should have washed his hands prior to drawing up the medicine & performing this surgery but hindsight is 20/20 & at the time I did not think much of it. Please let me know if this is a risk as I am very worried. I did not see the magazines he was looking at up close but they came from the waiting room because I saw the nurse return them there & this is where all of the patients handle magazines. Thank you for your time.

Response from Ms. Breuer

You're certainly right that handwashing before touching any equipment in the room should be any medical practitioner's protocol. You are at no risk of HIV from the magazines (remind yourself of the ways in which HIV really is transmitted, okay?), but his hands should be clean when he starts any procedure. Are you sure he didn't wash up upon entering the room? Or right before entering the room? I strongly suggest that you call the office and ask him about this. Even if you don't, you can put your own mind at ease. The scenario you describe does not risk transmitting HIV.

electric hair clippers
Re: What's the risk (Sep 18)

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