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Avatar universal

Hepatitis C occupational risk - ortho surgery

Hi, I work as a nurse at the ortho/trauma operating theatre. I wear protective eyewear during the more invasive procedures, but the other day, during an arthroscopic surgery of the shoulder, I just wore my prescription glasses.
While the surgeon was removing one of the instruments, a bit of the saline solution filling up the joint mixed with some blood splashed on my forehead. There were some drops on my glasses too. I instinctively closed my eyes, but I don't think it hit my eyes behind the glasses, I didn't feel anything. I'm a bit worked up about it though. How big do you think the risk of getting infected is? Should I be calm or proceed with testing? The patient was low risk as far as I know - 63yo, liver tests normal, only had a small old tattoo on his arm. Thanks, nurseli
2 Responses
683231 tn?1467326617
I doubt you were infected in this situation. If you want to get tested for your own peace of mind you should wait 3 months so that if you were infected your body will have enough time to develop antibodies.

As you work as a nurse I am very surprised you apparently have not had infectious disease training related to hep C. I suggest you may want to look search for Hepatitis C FAQ for medical professionals at the CDC web site.

There is no reason to worry and you should of course stay calm.

Even if you should ever in your life contract hep c the meds approved in the last few years are highly effective at curing hep c boasting cure rates of about 98% or greater for most patients with minimal side effects.

So if you don’t have hep c congrats if you ever do get hep c in your lifetime simply get treated and cured. But either way nothing to worry about.

Just to add, I am not a medical professional I am a lay person who was infected with hep c for 37 years. For a medical opinion you should discuss your concerns with a medical professional.
I agree that there is no reason for concern of Hep C infection in this specific fact pattern.
I do take issue with the cavalier tone you seem to take regarding HCV infection. The fact that newer treatments have greatly increased the likelihood of eradication and significantly decreased the treatment duration (and apparently the short term side effects) in no way means HCV infection is "nothing to worry about".It's just not that simple!.
Sorry Mike if I sounded cavalier. We do often have folks here who are terrified they maybe infected I was just perhaps in a clumsy way trying to be reassuring that hep c is today very curable compared with the old treatments and so hep c is not to be feared so much as it was in the past.

Best to you and yours
I understand.
Avatar universal
nurseli  you are probably fine, but don't worry until you hear that you have it.  Just get tested.  If you do have it, it's not a death sentence if you find out so early.  The people who end up dying from Hep C, usually find out after they've had if for years and don't know they have it and then, only when it's done a lot of damage-then, they find out.  Even if in the unlikely event that you were infected by this patient.., you are  ahead of the 'game' because you would know before the virus would have a chance to do a lot of damage.  Hep C, as a rule, is pretty slow-moving.  I might add, that you should always assume that any patient could have a communicable disease.  People often don't know they are positive for HCV or even HIV. Even some of those who do know, refuse to disclose it, when they should.  For your own safety, always assume every patient could have something and always were the protective things in every procedure, no matter how minor.  At my dentist office, I have disclosed to them that I am HCV positive.  I don't want to have it on my conscience worrying about possibly infecting someone.  That said, I don't tell a hairdresser because frankly, I see a different person every time I go in and don't feel like always putting that info out there for a simple haircut.  I feel that anyone in a profession where they touch people, need to understand there is always a risk.  Someone could be walking around w/TB and not know it. Or measles(if they are one of these people who are anti-vaccinators)... There have even been people who have been infected by getting a tattoo at a salon where they used improper sterilization., or at a nail salon.  Just relax, though, and get tested.
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