needle stick risks from HIV positive patient

Question

While taking care of a patient in the hospital, I was drawing blood using a butterfly needle (a very small needle connected to a flexible catheter). After discarding the needle in the sharps container and walking back to the patients bedside, I noticed blood underneath my glove on my middle finger. When removing the glove, I felt a sting. There was no further blood noted. I washed my hands, checked my finger for a hole or cut, but there was nothing. I did NOT FEEL a needle stick, but there was blood on my finger under the glove. What are my chances of getting HIV, because the patient is in fact HIV positive?

Answer

The odds of HIV infection from the kind of experience you describe are extremely low. For your own peace of mind, I encourage you to see your own health care provider right away for baseline tests. If you do not have documentation of your present HIV status, you would have difficulty claiming a worker's compensation injury in the unlikely event that you were to seroconvert. Also, you should be checked for possible exposure to hepatitis C; you may not have known the patient's hepatitis C status. The blood underneath the glove is what encourages me to encourage you to get follow-up. But remember that seroconversion under the circumstances you describe would be extremely unlikely. Please go right away, for your own medical and legal sake.

Nancy Breuer