Worried medical student please help!

Question

Hey doctor I hope you can help me because I am going crazy here. I am a third year medical student and i was in doing ward rounds with the senior doctor I was asked to take a patient blood pressure. I didnt wear any gloves, I took his BP and noticed that i touched some blood (it was dry because when i looked at my fingers there wasnt any blood on my fingers) anyways I washed my hands.

Same thing happened AGAIN with a different patient, checked my finger I didnt have any cuts (not that I know of) plus the blood wasnt fresh because i looked at my hands and i didnt have any blood on them.

Both patients were hiv positive. I am trying to be rational here and I know that i couldnt have catched anything as there was no blood in my hand. However whats making me paranoid is that I had a fever which went away after a couple of days and i been feeling extremely tired lately.

Do you think I should be tested?

I never been so scared in my life doctor, I spoke to my mentor and he said I am at no risk. People are acting as if i am crazy lol. I keep thinking that maybe i didnt see the blood going in, I dont know..

I mean maybe I am paranoid but do I have any reason to be? What do you think?

Thanks x

Answer

Hello Third-Year Med-Stud.,

You may indeed be "trying to be rational," but I assure you that you are not succeeding. Your fears are completely unwarranted. I agree with your mentor: no risk!

HIV is not your problem, but I do think you have a medical problem that does warrant attention: irrational fear of HIV. Please note your problem is "fear," not HIV. This type of irrational fear could inhibit your career in medicine if it is not dealt with now. I urge you to seek psychotherapy (counseling) to help you confront and conquer these irrational fears. Let untreated, they can and often do worsen. (Check the archives for lots of examples!)

Good luck.

Dr. Bob