Hepatitis C/HIV Risk? Dirty Scleral depressor in eye: Opthamologist
Hello, I recently went to my ophthalmologist (specializing solely in retinas) where they used a scleral depressor directly on the white part of my eye -- the sclera. I was surprised to see the technician put the instrument directly back in the box without wiping it down with alcohol or anything -- just a tissue, and not cleaning it before inserting it my eye. It is then used again on the next patient.
I then voiced my concern to physician. Wish I did beforehand -- but didn't know what was happening. This is the first time I have undergone scleral depression. For a practice that specializes in retinas and not clean the instruments between patients is just disgusting! The physician said, “I wouldn't worry about it. You should be fine.”
The next morning, I ended up getting a call from the CEO of the practice saying they are "investigating" what happened, but that I should not be concerned. The CEO also told me that the technician was also “on leave”. However, they said if I wanted, I could be tested for HIV, Hepatitis B & C. Since they didn't clean the scleral depressor between patients (the tech seemed completely incompetent), should I be concerned about the possibility of contracting Hepatitis B or C or HIV? With all the blood vessels in the eye and it being used on countless patients before me without being cleaned, is there a possibility of infection? The CEO said they typically do scleral depression in about 50% of patients that come in the practice.
I was also told by the retina practice they do have a number of patients that are infected with HIV and Hepatitis C (since there is an impact to the retina in these circumstances). And, they can’t just “turn patients away” if they have these types of viruses.
The procedure hurt very, very badly and my eyes were red after the procedure. Should I be concerned about contracting Hepatitis C or HIV? Can these viruses live in the eyes and in the blood vessels of the eyes? What kind of risk am I facing?
I am concerned. And, I would appreciate any guidance you can provide here.
Yes, I agree with you that it is disgusing that the implement used on you was not thorough disinfected and sanitized. I am glad that you made a complaint about it. It was incompetent and irresponsible for the technician not to follow hygiene rules.
If I were in your shoes, I would be worried about contracting anything.
And yes, I would take up their offer of being tested for HIV, Hepatitis B & C and make sure they pay for the tests. Also if you have to lose time off work to do that, then I would get them to pay for any lost wages.
Have a chat with your doctor too. I am not too familiar with HIV, but as you had a scraping on your eye there is a risk of Hepatitis B and C.
The reason I suggest you talk with your doctor is that I think there is an incubation period before the HIV shows up in the blood stream. The doctor would be able give you the right information.
Hope you get on alright and have not contracted any bacteria or viruses.
Lets hope the technician gets retraining so they do not do this again. Not only the equipment, the technician should also be washing his hands thoroughly before each patient.
It is unlikely that you have contracted anything, however in the remote possibility that you are concerned and desire to be tested you have to wait seven weeks to test for HIV. Seroconversion, which reflects on the test takes six weeks.
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