Hep C Needle Stick - Need Support

  1. Hello,
    I'm a FT nursing student and a PT patient care tech in a hospital. Last weekend, while at work at the hopsital, I got a needle stick with a needle containing blood from a patient who is Hep B and C positive. I filled out an incident report. They drew my blood and I was negative for Hep B, Hep C and HIV. They drew the patient's blood and she is HIV neg, but Hep B and C positive.

    I know I don't have to worry about the Hep B because of the Hep B vaccination required to work in the hopsital. However, I'm scared stiff about the Hep C.

    By the way, the whole process took *HOURS* because noone on my unit had the faintest idea about needlestick protocol. Then, when they gave up and sent me to ED, noone there had any idea what to do either. I had to advocate for myself to get them to track down a doc to get the patient's consent to draw and test her blood.

    Here are my questions for those of you who have had this experience:
    1. How do you deal with the 6 month wait to see if you got the dreaded disease?
    2. Was your manager supportive? Mine was awful to me.
    3. Were your coworkers supportive? Mine were not.

    I feel so discouraged and scared.

    Any supportive advice would be appreciated.
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  2. 8 Comments

  3. by   Tweety
    Don't expect support from your peers. People tend to blame the person being stuck and are unsupportive. But accidents happen. 15 years into nursing I had a needle stick picking up an IM injection I dropped on the floor while talking to the patient and it too took hours to get through the process. Our manager is fairly supportive and can make the process go quicker, but she wasn't there that day.

    Nothing makes the wait easier but as the days goes by you won't obsess about it so much. Hang in there. Best wishes.
  4. by   leslie :-D
    hoping the following link, provides you w/the information and support you seek.

    www.janis7hepc.com/Links1.htm#accential

    leslie
  5. by   sleeplessonthelake
    As a RN for 23 years and one who witnessed another nurse suffer a needle stick, our hospital had a very advanced needle stick protocal. Where blood was drwn routinely for one year, also one where both pt. and nurse had blood drawn for baseline lab values initially. Also be carefull who you tell of this incident, need to know basis only, this is your best advice at this point. Good luck.
    Last edit by sleeplessonthelake on Sep 25, '07 : Reason: spelling
  6. by   sharona97
    Thank goodness you became your own advocate. Occupational/Safety health should have had a protocol indeed! I have had 2 needlesticks in my career and was very vigilant about getting bloods checked for HIV. I have always remained neg. TG.

    Hang in there as other posters have said and continue to follow-up. Think positive the best you can. Have the "patients" bloods come back for a full Hep C work up?
    I would demand one for myself. Not just LFT's or ggt's, but for viral loads and counts, even if I had to go thru infection control or see a specialist. Take care of you!

    Best wishes.
  7. by   HopeItWorksDNP
    Tish,

    I'm posting my reply to another member earlier this year on the same subject. This is my story:

    March 2006, pt with internal defibillator in V-tach. Defibillator is firing every 30 seconds or so causing his body to jump off the stretcher. New lab tech in to draw blood. Absolutely TERRIFIED at the thought of touching pt because someone has told her she'll get shocked, but blood HAS to be drawn. Being the hero-complex sufferer that I am, I volunteered to hold pt's arm for her to draw blood. She drew the blood, defibillator fired, pt jumped, and a needle attached to a syringe full of freshly drawn blood went into my gloved hand right between my thumb and index finger. Pt was a known IV-drug user and a fairly frequent flyer whom we all knew was + for Hep C. As a matter of fact, when my nurse manager was told I had been stuck by his dirty needle, her first comment was, "Oh, God! Of all the people to get stuck by!". Thanks...that really helped my anxiety riddled @ss.

    Fortunately, he was negative for HIV. But I spent the next few weeks nervous as Hell that I would get stuck again. I would break out in a cold sweat everytime I had to handle a needle. I would find myself thinking, "what if I get stuck again", "what if this one is HIV positive", etc. Being nervous and scared of the needles made me more clumsy with them. I realized I had to get over my fear or I was going to end up sticking myself. These days, I have a healthy respect for them and I am as careful as I can be, but I don't get scared at the thought of getting stuck everytime I pick one up. I guess what I'm saying, is that if you really want to be in the ER, don't let a fear of "what if" stop you. Use common sense and safety precautions and understand there is a risk of a needle stick no matter what area of the hospital you work, just like there is a chance of an accident everytime you walk out of your house. Its a chance. It is not a sure thing.

    By the way, the pt survived only to die earlier this year from an OD. I had a year of labwork and every test came back negative. I figure if I didn't catch Hep C from that stick, the percentages really must be low.

    The best advice I can offer you is to allow yourself to be scared. Allow yourself to cry. You can only know how traumatic a dirty needle stick is if you've been stuck. But with every negative test you get, your anxiety will lessen. Demand proper testing for yourself and the source. I called the CDC myself to make sure I was getting proper testing because I had doubts in the competency of our infection control nurse. I also demanded HIV tests with every blood draw just to "make sure". Advocate for yourself. Keep copies of your labwork. Especially the baseline result so if you should contract Hep C, you'll have proof you didn't have it before. But mostly, keep in mind that the chances are very low that you'll catch this. The odds are in your favor. And remember, we're here anytime you need a shoulder.
  8. by   amzyRN
    I hope things come out okay and that you don't test pos for HEPC. But even if you did a small portion of people clear the virus and others live a relatively normal life with treatment. I have a friend who is HEPC pos and she is completely asymptomatic and has no sign of liver problems. She does take meds though and tells me that it isn't that bad. She is only 37 years old. I'm sending you a prayer right now that you come out completely clear. Take care,
    J
  9. by   sharona97
    Quote from ERTraumaJunkie
    Tish,

    I'm posting my reply to another member earlier this year on the same subject. This is my story:

    March 2006, pt with internal defibillator in V-tach. Defibillator is firing every 30 seconds or so causing his body to jump off the stretcher. New lab tech in to draw blood. Absolutely TERRIFIED at the thought of touching pt because someone has told her she'll get shocked, but blood HAS to be drawn. Being the hero-complex sufferer that I am, I volunteered to hold pt's arm for her to draw blood. She drew the blood, defibillator fired, pt jumped, and a needle attached to a syringe full of freshly drawn blood went into my gloved hand right between my thumb and index finger. Pt was a known IV-drug user and a fairly frequent flyer whom we all knew was + for Hep C. As a matter of fact, when my nurse manager was told I had been stuck by his dirty needle, her first comment was, "Oh, God! Of all the people to get stuck by!". Thanks...that really helped my anxiety riddled @ss.

    Fortunately, he was negative for HIV. But I spent the next few weeks nervous as Hell that I would get stuck again. I would break out in a cold sweat everytime I had to handle a needle. I would find myself thinking, "what if I get stuck again", "what if this one is HIV positive", etc. Being nervous and scared of the needles made me more clumsy with them. I realized I had to get over my fear or I was going to end up sticking myself. These days, I have a healthy respect for them and I am as careful as I can be, but I don't get scared at the thought of getting stuck everytime I pick one up. I guess what I'm saying, is that if you really want to be in the ER, don't let a fear of "what if" stop you. Use common sense and safety precautions and understand there is a risk of a needle stick no matter what area of the hospital you work, just like there is a chance of an accident everytime you walk out of your house. Its a chance. It is not a sure thing.

    By the way, the pt survived only to die earlier this year from an OD. I had a year of labwork and every test came back negative. I figure if I didn't catch Hep C from that stick, the percentages really must be low.

    The best advice I can offer you is to allow yourself to be scared. Allow yourself to cry. You can only know how traumatic a dirty needle stick is if you've been stuck. But with every negative test you get, your anxiety will lessen. Demand proper testing for yourself and the source. I called the CDC myself to make sure I was getting proper testing because I had doubts in the competency of our infection control nurse. I also demanded HIV tests with every blood draw just to "make sure". Advocate for yourself. Keep copies of your labwork. Especially the baseline result so if you should contract Hep C, you'll have proof you didn't have it before. But mostly, keep in mind that the chances are very low that you'll catch this. The odds are in your favor. And remember, we're here anytime you need a shoulder.
    My thoughts exactly for her. I told her to demand those tests as well. AND I am very glad you are still neg!!!!!!!!! Totally agree with you.
  10. by   core0
    Quote from tishclassof08
    Hello,
    I'm a FT nursing student and a PT patient care tech in a hospital. Last weekend, while at work at the hopsital, I got a needle stick with a needle containing blood from a patient who is Hep B and C positive. I filled out an incident report. They drew my blood and I was negative for Hep B, Hep C and HIV. They drew the patient's blood and she is HIV neg, but Hep B and C positive.

    I know I don't have to worry about the Hep B because of the Hep B vaccination required to work in the hopsital. However, I'm scared stiff about the Hep C.

    By the way, the whole process took *HOURS* because noone on my unit had the faintest idea about needlestick protocol. Then, when they gave up and sent me to ED, noone there had any idea what to do either. I had to advocate for myself to get them to track down a doc to get the patient's consent to draw and test her blood.

    Here are my questions for those of you who have had this experience:
    1. How do you deal with the 6 month wait to see if you got the dreaded disease?
    2. Was your manager supportive? Mine was awful to me.
    3. Were your coworkers supportive? Mine were not.

    I feel so discouraged and scared.

    Any supportive advice would be appreciated.
    I think that a positive attitude is the important part here. First remember that infection is unlikely (less than 2% chance per the CDC). You also have to be your own advocate here.
    Here is the CDC page on HCV. Look at the bottom of the page for needlestick information.
    http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/h...s/c/faq.htm#1h

    Here is an article from the HCV advocate:
    http://www.hcvadvocate.org/hcsp/articles/Jensen.html

    Acute HCV has not been studied extensively here but there is very positive news out of europe. The issue is that if you catch the virus early you can treat it with Interferon with very good success rates. This has been extensively studied in Europe. While we do not give medical advice here, If it was me then I would do something as outlined on this page:
    http://www.ikp.unibe.ch/lab2/needle.html

    The key is to do HCV RNA tests every month for the first six months. The RNA test will be positive quicker than the ab test and will be positive earlier giving a better chance of cure if the person desires treatment.

    If I got any flak over this I would show them this (if it was me):
    http://www.annclinlabsci.org/cgi/con...tract/32/2/137
    and this:
    http://cmr.asm.org/cgi/reprint/16/3/546

    I am sorry that you are not being supported by your management or your co-workers. This is the time they should be supporting you. It could just as easily be them. Keep a positive attitude.

    David Carpenter, PA-C

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