STDs Expert Forum
Work Exposure Worry
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The STD Forum is intended only for questions and support pertaining to sexually transmitted diseases other than HIV/AIDS, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, human papillomavirus, genital warts, trichomonas, other vaginal infections, nongonoccal urethritis (NGU), cervicitis, molluscum contagiosum, chancroid, and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). All questions will be answered by H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D. or Edward W Hook, MD.

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Work Exposure Worry

I work in the OR and am worried about a possible exposure.  During a case, the scrub tech passed off some packaging to me at a semi-hectic moment and I grabbed it from her without gloves on.  I noticed some blood on the packaging but didnt notice any on my hands after disposing of it.  I washed my hands shortly after when I realized I had grabbed an item with some blood on it.  I have been really worried about a possible exposure to HBV, HCV, HIV and wondered if there was a risk of transmission if there was a small amount of blood on my hands.  I did not see any noticeable cuts on my hands either.  There were no precautions mentioned before the surgery.  I have only had my first of three hep b vaccines given in February which is why I am so worried about hep b in particular. This fear has also caused me to become overly concerned with environmental exposure to Hep b in the or since I read it can live for so long outside the body and objects that are often touched with gloves that may have blood on them are easy to come into contact with during and after a surgery before the room is fully cleaned (i.e. headlight cables, bovie cord, etc.).  Am i overreacting here or do I have a legitimate concern?  Im so stressed over this!  Thanks for you help.
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Welcome to our Forum.  I would not worry about this exposure. Surface contamination of the sort you describe does not put you at risk for acquisition of blood borne pathogens.  Further, it is statistically rather unlikely that the patient who was in surgery at the time had any sort of infection to transmit.  

On the other hand, there appears to be some sort of breach in proper technique here - not sure if it is yours or someone else. The surgical tech should not be handing off potentially contaminated material to ungloved persons.  I would mention this to the folks you work with. EWH
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H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D.Blank
University of Washington
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