HIV+

  1. Hi, im a single 31yr old OR nurse. About 8 months ago, I was stuck in a substerile room with a 18g hollow core needle. Someone had left it at the sink and I did not notice it. It was laying on a towel with some instruments and I was putting them away and It stuck me. Like an idiot, I did not think anything of it. I left the hospital and the next day a co-worker asked me if I went to the ER. I told her I had worked over 2 hours and really, I forgot. It was such a busy night. The hospital's employee health said there was nothing they could do. They wouoldn't even do a courtesy test. I called the local health dept. and scheduled a test in Oct 2000. It came back negative. For the next 6 months I was worried, but just knew everything would be allright. In Feb 2001, I had my 6 months test. It was negative and I was overjoyed. I recently started traveling nursing in the OR. Last Thursday, I was stuck with a suture the surgeon was using to close the peritoneum. This time I went to the ER and sat 3 hours for a preliminary test. I was told to follow up with Employee Health on Tuesady of this week. Tuesday, I was told that I could not be seen because I was not an employee of the hospital.I asked of my test results on Thursday and about the patient's and was told they knew nothing about it. Today after work, I walk in the door and the phone is ringing. Its the ER physician I saw last week. He told me my test came back positive. I didn't believe him. I mean, I just was tested in Feb and told him the results were negative. He told me to have the Western Blot test because sometimes, but in a minute cases, there is a false positive. I am so scarred. What will become on my career?? Can I be terminated?? How do I tell my family? I can't stop crying. My mind is so confused. I can't remember treatment options. My life is over. Please someone just help. I have prayed for hours and I feel numb. I'm scarred, confused, and I just don't know what to do. RH
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  2. 35 Comments

  3. by   susanmary
    First & foremost, I'm so sorry for what happened. Remember, your life is NOT over. Clearly, you are in shock & having a difficult time getting perspective on things. The most important thing is your health. You cannot change what has happened. Regarding the stick with the suture -- YOU were stuck, had been tested HIV negative shortly before that. Did the hospital get permission to TEST the lady? Why did they make you site 3 hours in the ER? Why didn't the hospital nursing supervisor get you seen sooner? Treated sooner? You need some sound advice -- you need a good lawyer and a good doctor. I can't imagine you would not be covered under workman's comp.
    On the most important matter -- your health. Get a great doctor, one who specializes in infectious diseases. Fight. Fight. Fight. You need sound advice. Regarding your family -- let them help you through this -- you are carrying a great burden -- let them share the load.
    It's frightening to read your various posts where you clearly are so overwhelmed, seem so hopeless & have stated that you have no reason to go on living.
    You need to let others support you. You need to know that others care about you & what happens to you. You have options. Your life is NOT over. Please get help ASAP. Let us know what's going on. I'm praying for you -- praying that the test was a false positive. Whatever the outcome, know that others are praying for you and wishing you the absolute best.
  4. by   Huganurse
    ...
    Last edit by Huganurse on Jun 30, '02
  5. by   natalie
    OR-RN,
    You say you are travel nursing. Can you get back home? First thing to do is have the western blot test. Get home soon and have it done there. We'll be praying for you on this
    bulletin board. Keep writing. It will help.

  6. by   jamistlc
    Greetings fellow Nurse,

    OHMYGOD, I did not read beyond the beginning of your post and wrote this to you,
    Somebody is pulling your leg. It is an OSHA standard that they test you and the pt (if known) for HIV ( you for the next year or 6 months, the standard changes) They the hospital can get into serious trouble for not following the policy. You may also get into trouble for not following the policy as well.

    They from the OSHA inspector and you from Human Services at the hospital! They are also suppose to offer you "the cocktail Prophylatically) by OSHA standards!

    You are probably suppose to file an incident report as well! I would do that if you have not done so yet and make a copy for your records, if needed!

    I would also go to your supervisor and make it known in uncertain terms you want tested! Also go to the house officer if you have too! Somebody will take notice, but you maybe at fault for not getting TX ASAP after the stick. I would reveiw the policy to make sure you had x number of hours to contact employee health or the ER.

    If all else fails contact OSHA and report it yourself. This is a violation of your rights! I would get it documented somewhere!


    Now that I have read your whole posting, OHMYGOD! I have had needle sticks and even a scaple once. I really do not know what to say, other than OHMYGOD, you are in my prayers and I do not pray often, enough!
    I can only relate to the waiting and not knowing. I volunteer as an HIV/AIDS Educator for the ARC. I often tell people who are HIV+ that although there is no cure, the cocktails are prolonging the duration and quality of life to the point if you take care of yourself that you can live a long and healthy life! Now as far as the family and spouse that is hard both for you and the others. Education and other resources are probably the best prevention for them and your peace of mind.

    I would hope that your travel agency is on the ball to help you remain active as a nurse. I know that you may not stay in the OR but what other options are availble that might interest you. Again I hope your agency will help you with that. You could try Nursing Education or HIV/AIDS counseling. I am not being funny here it is not funny! I mean as an infected person you could relate to newly DX'd clients of like a clinic and know the stuff to educate them about first hand! Again I say I am sorry this has happened to you and keep you in my prayers. I would suggest that you find a support group in your area for HIV = people. If you want I can send to you a resource list to help you get started.


    Peace,
    Have a Blessed Day,
    Jami

    ------------------
    Visit my web site at <A HREF="http://www.geocities.com/4birthing" TARGET=_blank>http://www.geocities.com/4birthing
    </A>Have a Blessed and Peaceful Day,
    Jami
    DoulaNurse@hotmail.com

    [This message has been edited by jamistlc (edited April 25, 2001).]
  7. by   Genista
    OR RN-
    My heart goes out to you! It feels absolutely horrifying to be told you are HIV positive! I have an idea of what you are going through because 5 years ago after donating blood I got a very abrupt letter from the blood bank, asking me to "come in for a meeting." :-( They told me my blood was reactive for HIV, but the test was "indeterminate." I felt like my life was over! I was only 25 years old! I remember breaking down sobbing in the blood bank office when they gave me the news.

    They told me I needed the Western Blot test to confirm, but the results took a long time in coming (I forget if it was a few days or over a week, but it felt like forever). In the meanwhile, my boyfriend at the time (now my husband) and I had long talks and spent a good deal of time calling some AIDS hotlines. We felt confused, alone, and scared.

    Fortunely for us, my boyfriend's subsequent tests came back negative & my test was found to be a false positive (I had never heard of that before).However, for a week or so, all I knew was that I might be HIV +, so I have an idea of how upsetting it feels.

    Please know that there are people who do care about you & those who can help you in this terrible time! I am posting a link to the CDC HIV Prevention page, which has a FAQs area, and lists suggested post exposure prophylaxis, tx, etc.
    http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/dhap.htm

    ****You can call the CDC 24 hour/7 day per week HIV hotline and talk to a live person and get some help: 1-800-342-AIDS ********

    Here's a web page of an HIV+ nurse, it has some great links & support info: http://members.tripod.com/~Kenna77/


    I am so sorry to hear of your rough situation! But there is help out there- and please take care of yourself both in spirit and body. Take time off from work if you need to, and get your questions answered. There are many people living w/ HIV, many of whom are wonderful, loving people like yourself. As previous posters commented, there are support groups, too. I will keep you & your family in my prayers!
    ~kona

    [This message has been edited by kona2 (edited April 26, 2001).]
  8. by   Robin61970
    I have never had to deal with this situation as of yet, but I wanted to tell you how sorry I am that you are going through this. I do agree though....girl raise hell....I mean it....your life is not over...you can do this. You have the compassion and ability to be a nurse and deal with the things nurse are dealing with so I know you can deal with this also...stand up and make them treat you....make them do right by you....
    You are in all of our prayers
  9. by   Doey
    First off if I'm understanding OSHA guidlines correctly the facility in which you were originally exposed has the obligation to test/treat you and offer counseling. Treatment, with your consent, should take place immediately if indicated. At least I think between 24 and 36hrs after exposure. (also I believe they are supposed to report this and keep records ect). They obviously were not compliant with this. But you did the correct thing for yourself, which was to be tested.
    In the second exposure the same thing should have happened. The patient should have also been tested and the results given to you for HIV status as well as HBV. I'm not entirely sure if it is up to the facility you were working in at the time,(but I think it is), or the agency you are employed with. Either way no one seems to be complying with the guidlines/regulations set forth.
    First off you need to be re-tested ASAP. Your health is the most important thing here. Then to receive treatment as soon as possible. Even if the re-test comes back negative you need to speak with someone RE prophylactic treatment to prevent sero-conversion. And get a lawyer!!
    I understand that you are devestated right now, and it's easy for me to say, but don't let your feelings now get in the way of your taking action. It's not easy to do but reach out to your family and friends for support (and of course us). My thoughts and prayers are with you as I'm sure they are from everyone on this BB. Keep us posted and don't hesitate to write in when you need support or assistance.
    Check out the website for OSHA and the CDC. And although contracting HIV from a needle stick exposure is definetly possible, know that the percentage is extremely low. (according to CDC).
    Good luck and a cyberhug to you. www.cdc.gov/ncidod/hip/blood/hiv.htm

    [This message has been edited by Doey (edited April 26, 2001).]
  10. by   kjmta57
    Standards of OSHOA and CDC are very clear the hospital was obligated to treat you immediatly. We start the medication before the 1 hour mark after an exposure. But please and foremost get retested. I have seen false positives before. And as an HIV counselar where I work I always tell everyone to retest I also would get legal help also the hospital where you work needs to be held responsible.I will say a prayer for you and please let us know how it turns out.
  11. by   KSEFLINK
    Having been an Employee Health nurse for the last 4 years, both of your employers are behind the eight ball on this. You are covered for an open-ended amount of time once a needlestick occurs. By law, you have one year from an injury and two years from an illness to go back to a former employer and fill out a worker compensation form. In the case of a needlestick, you are in reality covered for an indefinite period of time. You should be retested as a courtesy, in my role, I tested EMTs,Docs and students who were not employees so that no delay was caused. It is true that there should be results for the source patients and if one of them was HIV positive again your case is good, if no one revealed that to you.
    YOU MUST get retested and put on antiviral and protease inhibitors ASAP. Every momement that goes by, is worsening your chances if indeed you are positive. I had a couple of false positive results in employees in the past, so go and get retested!! Find yourself some legal assistance. Nationwide the worker compensation systems are paying total costs for these types of cases. \
    Know that you are in my prayers and thoughts. I wish that I could be there to assist you through your process. You are never alone, especially on this BB. Keep us informed of your outcome and let us support you through all of this. Hang in there.
  12. by   Malee38
    OR-RN, I am so truly sorry you are going through this. Please know that we are all praying for you. I am a HIV/AIDS nurse and have been in the midst of this delimma. PLEASE get retested ASAP! If indeed you are positive, it's from the first stick and not the second one. Go back to the place of the original stick, although you did not report immediately you were still employeed there and covered under Workers Comp. We had a nurse that did not report for 2 weeks, fact was she was negative on initial testing, she was employeed by us, and we were responsible. Either way you need the prophy NOW for the second stick. Let the first place know what the ER doc told you...and SHAME on him....positive results should NEVER EVER be given over the phone!Someone is not doing their job here and its not you. But don't let them get you....beat down every door you know of. Check to see if the hospital has an Epidemiology nurse and talk to her. Your risk for Hep B transmission is higher than transmission of HIV...have them do both again.
    I will pray for you (EVERYONE will)...please know we are here and we care.
    Malee M.
  13. by   Dplear
    I also had an exposure like this from a pt dying of AIDS...I was sprayed in the face while walking by him with secretions from his vent. I was put on the AZT cocktail for 6 months. This is recomended by the CDC. Unfortunately the side effects are terrible. I never want to seet those drugs again. I came back negative. These drugs ARE covered by workers comp, which your travel company does carry. LET THEM KNOW AND PAY FOR ALL TESTING. I know this first hand because I was a travel nurse at the time this happened to me. Email me for any questions at dlear@swbell.net I will be happy to answer them for you privately....

    God speed

    [This message has been edited by Dplear (edited April 26, 2001).]
  14. by   NRSKarenRN
    Dear OR Nurse:
    Here is the direct link to CDC:Guidelines for Needlestick injuries Post-exposure to HIV and other blood pathogens
    www.cdc.gov/ncidod/hip/blood/hiv.htm

    Request retesting immediately and preventive meds recommended here NOW.
    If member of a union, file claim with workmans comp attorney immediately, or obtain outside attorney. Keep us informed.
    Your story illustrates why we need to report needlesticks immediately, even if we think "It will really never happen to me" or "I don't want to take the time to get tested."
    Sending healing vibes your way.


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