HIV - Prevention Expert Forum
Fear of Exposure from Hospital Visit
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This forum is limited to prevention of HIV and to safe sex in general. All questions will be answered by H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D. or Edward W Hook, MD.

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Fear of Exposure from Hospital Visit

I am a bit troubled by the fear of possible exposure to bloodborne pathogens (HIV, Hepatitis) due to a recent visit to the Emergency Room due to a sustained injury.

During my visit, I had requested a blanket. Sometime later I noticed a giant red spot on the blanket. I have no idea what it is, tried not to touch it and really didn't think much of it at the time... but the smart thing to do would have been to request a new one, which for some reason I didn't do!

While at the hospital, I had my blood drawn, an IV put into my arm, and a scrotum ultrasound (long story). If the spot was blood is it possible that the technician doing all these procedures might have accidentally contaminated the IV needle, and tubes, etc from the spot and thus put me at risk for infection? It was at least 5 minutes between when I got the blanket and they started working on me.

Since there was no "direct" transfer of fluids per say.... I feel that this was really low risk for at least HIV, but I'm still very concerned and can't get this incident out of my mind. What worries me was that since the blanket was from the heated cabinet, it could have incubated any infectious particles.

I talked to my friend, a RN, who assured me that I was never at risk from this incident, but I can't put this behind me for some reason.
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Welcome to our Forum.  The medical fact is that there is simply no reason for you to be fearful of this.  The idea that you would have been exposed to a grossly contaminated blanket or that it would have in turn, contaminated an IV needle used on you, or that you could have gotten HIV or another blood borne pathogen in this way is simply so far out of the standards of care followed by medical facilities across the U.S. that it has no credibility.   As your friend has already suggested, nothing about the scenario you describe suggests that you are at any risk.  

In preparing to answer your question I happened to look at your earlier posts including the ones on the Phobia community site.  I see that concerns of this sort are not new for you.  That leads me to my most important recommendation which is that fears of this sort warrant the care of a professional.  Please talk this an your other concerns through with a professional.  These are just not realistic concerns. EWH
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Thank you for your feedback Dr. Hook. And yes... I often struggle with excessive and often times unrealistic worries about my health. Since these episodes have happened quite a bit and with greater frequency, I will definitely take your advice and seek therapy. Thanks again.
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H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D.Blank
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