Avatar universal

Hep C from phlebotomist not changing gloves?

Hi everyone,

First of all, thank you for all your help. I've been very educated reading all your posts. However, I would like an opinion on my situation.

I went into a STD clinic, and noticed that the phlebotomist just finished treating someone from the back and came greet me with her gloves on. She then told me to go to the back room and she was using the front computer (again, with gloves on). Now when she actually came back and proceeded to draw my blood, I had noticed that the same set of gloves were still on. She didn't change them! she touched my arm to find the vein, and then wiped it with alcohol, and then finished the job. Now I've been reading quite a few posts online and alcohol is no way an effective way to inactivate HCV. If her finger had HCV on them (quite possible since it is a STD clinic) and touched the site of injection. would it be possible to transmit HCV that way? Oh, and there was no visible blood on her gloves but there might always be microscopic amount for the virus to live on.

Also, what about the computer and front office that she used. She had the gloves on after working with patients. Wouldnt the office equipments be infected with HCV?
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446474 tn?1446347682
If this is what happened, then call the clinic and report this person ASAP. They are not following OSHA and other best practices.

I wonder how a phlebotomist could not remove the gloves and work on a computer without other colleagues noticing this?
How can you tell one pair of gloves from another?

Touching the arm and vein is commonly done to find a locations to insert the needle.

Transmitting hepatitis C would be very unlikely to be transmitted this way.
First the patients she treated while have the same gloves on would have to have hepatitis C and bleed on the gloves. How could blood get on the gloves? The gloves never come in contact with the blood. The blood is collected in the tube and gauze is used to collect any blood before the bandages or tape is applied.

Report and incident and if you are still concerned get treated for exposer to hepatitis B&C and HIV.


1.    Identify the patient.  Outpatients are called into the phlebotomy area and asked their name and date of
       birth.  This information must match the requisition.    Inpatients are identified by their arm band.
       If it has been removed, a nurse must install a new one before the patient can be drawn.

2.    Reassure the patient that the minimum amount of blood required for testing will be drawn.

3.    Assemble the necessary equipment appropriate to the patient's physical characteristics.
4.    Wash hands and put on gloves.

5.    Position the patient with the arm extended to form a straight-line from shoulder to wrist.

6.    Do not attempt a venipuncture more than twice.  Notify your supervisor or patient's physician if unsuccessful.

7.    Select the appropriate vein for venipuncture.  
       The larger median cubital, basilic and cephalic veins are most frequently used, but other may be necessary and will become more prominent if the patient closes his fist tightly.  At no time may phlebotomists perform venipuncture on an artery.  At no time will blood be drawn from the feet.
Factors to consider in site selection:

            * Extensive scarring or healed burn areas should be avoided
            * Specimens should not be obtained from the arm on the same side as a mastectomy.
            * Avoid areas of hematoma.
            * If an IV is in place, samples may be obtained below but NEVER above the IV site.  
            * Do not obtain specimens from an arm having a cannula, fistula, or vascular graft.
            * Allow 10-15 minutes after a transfusion is completed before obtaining a blood sample.

8.     Apply the tourniquet 3-4 inches above the collection site.  
        Never leave the tourniquet on for over 1 minute.
        If a tourniquet is used for preliminary vein selection, release it and reapply after two minutes.

9.   Clean the puncture site by making a smooth circular pass over the site with the 70% alcohol pad,
       moving in an outward spiral from the zone of penetration.  Allow the skin to dry before proceeding.  
       Do not touch the puncture site after cleaning.

10.    Perform the venipuncture
        A.    Attach the appropriate needle to the hub by removing the plastic cap over the small end of the needle and inserting into the hub, twisting it tight.
        B.    Remove plastic cap over needle and hold bevel up.
        C.    Pull the skin tight with your thumb or index finger just below the puncture site.  
        D.    Holding the needle in line with the vein, use a quick, small thrust to penetrate the skin and
                enter the vein in one smooth motion.
        E.    Holding the hub securely, insert the first vacutainer tube following proper order of draw into
                the large end of the hub penetrating the stopper.  Blood should flow into the evacuated tube.  
        F.    After blood starts to flow, release the tourniquet and ask the patient to open his or her hand.
        G.   When blood flow stops, remove the tube by holding the hub securely and pulling the tube off the needle.  If multiple tubes are needed, the proper order of draw to avoid cross contamination and erroneous results is as follows:  
                1.     Blood culture vials or bottles, sterile (yellow top) tubes
                2.     Coagulation tube (light blue top)
                3.     Serum tube with or without clot activator or silica gel (Red or Gold)
                4.     Heparin tube (Green top)
                5.     EDTA (Lavender top)
                6.     Glycolytic inhibitor (Gray top)
         H.    Each tube containing an additive should be gently inverted 5-8 times after being removed from the hub.  DO NOT SHAKE OR MIX VIGOROUSLY.
         I.    Place a gauze pad over the puncture site and remove the needle.  
                Immediately apply slight pressure.  Ask the patient to apply pressure for at least 2 minutes.  
                When bleeding stops, apply a fresh bandage, gauze or tape.
        J.     Properly dispose of hub with needle attached  into a sharps container.  Label all tubes with patient labels, initials, date and time.

Good luck.
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
Thanks Hector,

She was the only one working there the time I came in. And the entire time I was sitting by boxes of gloves that she didnt touch. And her gloves were purple so I remembered distinctively.

What about possible transmission of Hep C from environmental surface onto the gloves? Since there are a lot of blood samples in the lab. Could there be microscopic amount of Hep C on her gloves that I can't see. Note that I carefully observed and there was no visible blood on her glove. Before sticking me, she did do a few things in the lab room, like touching the table, a lab computer, etc
Helpful - 0
446474 tn?1446347682
CDC - Hepatitis C FAQs for the Public

Transmission / Exposure

How is Hepatitis C spread?

Hepatitis C is spread when blood from a person infected with the Hepatitis C virus enters the body of someone who is not infected. Today, most people become infected with the Hepatitis C virus by sharing needles or other equipment to inject drugs. Before 1992, when widespread screening of the blood supply began in the United States, Hepatitis C was also commonly spread through blood transfusions and organ transplants.

People can become infected with the Hepatitis C virus during such activities as

Sharing needles, syringes, or other equipment to inject drugs
Needlestick injuries in health care settings
Being born to a mother who has Hepatitis C

Less commonly, a person can also get Hepatitis C virus infection through

Sharing personal care items that may have come in contact with another person’s blood, such as razors or toothbrushes
Having sexual contact with a person infected with the Hepatitis C virus
Can Hepatitis C be spread through sexual contact?
Yes, but the risk of transmission from sexual contact is believed to be low. The risk increases for those who have multiple sex partners, have a sexually transmitted disease, engage in rough sex, or are infected with HIV. More research is needed to better understand how and when Hepatitis C can be spread through sexual contact.

Can you get Hepatitis C by getting a tattoo or piercing?

A few major research studies have not shown Hepatitis C to be spread through licensed, commercial tattooing facilities. However, transmission of Hepatitis C (and other infectious diseases) is possible when poor infection-control practices are used during tattooing or piercing. Body art is becoming increasingly popular in the United States, and unregulated tattooing and piercing are known to occur in prisons and other informal or unregulated settings. Further research is needed to determine if these types of settings and exposures are responsible for Hepatitis C virus transmission.  

Can Hepatitis C be spread within a household?

Yes, but this does not occur very often. If Hepatitis C virus is spread within a household, it is most likely a result of direct, through-the-skin exposure to the blood of an infected household member.

What are ways Hepatitis C is not spread?
Hepatitis C virus is not spread by sharing eating utensils, breastfeeding, hugging, kissing, holding hands, coughing, or sneezing. It is also not spread through food or water.

Who is at risk for Hepatitis C?
Some people are at increased risk for Hepatitis C, including

Current injection drug users (currently the most common way Hepatitis C virus is spread in the United States)
Past injection drug users, including those who injected only one time or many years ago
Recipients of donated blood, blood products, and organs (once a common means of transmission but now rare in the United States since blood screening became available in 1992)

People who received a blood product for clotting problems made before 1987
Hemodialysis patients or persons who spent many years on dialysis for kidney failure
People who received body piercing or tattoos done with non-sterile instruments
People with known exposures to the Hepatitis C virus, such as
Health care workers injured by needlesticks
Recipients of blood or organs from a donor who tested positive for the Hepatitis C virus
HIV-infected persons
Children born to mothers infected with the Hepatitis C virus

Less common risks include:

Having sexual contact with a person who is infected with the Hepatitis C virus
Sharing personal care items, such as razors or toothbrushes, that may have come in contact with the blood of an infected person.

Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
Thank you for everything.

Just a side note, I was wondering about the 1.8% seroconversion for needle stick injuries for Hep C infected needles (stated on the CDC website). Do you know why there is such a number if the virus has gotten through and into the bloodstream already, wouldnt the number be a lot more up there?
Helpful - 0
87972 tn?1322661239
Presumably very small volumes of virus are involved in percuteneous injection vs. intravenous injection?

The likelihood of a patient becoming infected by touching or transferring from environmental surfaces as you’re suggesting is probably minuscule.


Helpful - 0
1225178 tn?1318980604
Just a thought... HCV is NOT a STD. Make sure you report this to the clinic though because the risk of many other kinds of infection is very high... including herpes which can be quite a pain...lol.

Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
yea. sorry. didnt mean to say that hcv is a std. just the clinic is primarily for STD and drug screening. i will try to report this. thanks!

Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
Thanks Bill,

I was kinda nervous because the blood drawing creates a pretty good opening for the virus to move in. And if her glove was contaminated and touched the site of injection, isnt there a good chance of being infected? I guess thats a lot of assuming on my part, that her glove was contaminated first of all.

Oh, one more question - just for my own knowledge. HCV is not very effective in passing mucous membrane such as the mouth right?
Helpful - 0
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