Hiv exposure in the workplace

  1. I am a nurse on a adolescent psychiatric unit. I was recently exposed to HIV positive blood. This was a deliberated attack by a patient. I was told by the county attorney I can not press charges because this was done by a psych patient. This patient is not psychotic or mentally retarded. Should she be held accountable. My life has been greatly affected by her actions and I feel she needs to be held accountable. Any thoughts?

    [This message has been edited by psychnurse01 (edited January 24, 2001).]

    [This message has been edited by psychnurse01 (edited January 24, 2001).]
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  2. 2 Comments

  3. by   MollyJ
    I am sitting here stunned to think what you are coping with because this is such a deliberate and hostile act. I guess I would talk to a private lawyer, not a county attorney, and see what they have to say. County attorney may be talking from a perspective of his/her perception of the solidness of the case, but talking to a private attorney might well be worth the weight in gold for peace of mind. If people can bring suit against people who hit them in a car accident, I'm uncertain why you wouldn't be able to bring suit. But I guess I think you should talk to a lawyer not a nurse ;-)
    Hope you are getting good HIV prophylaxis and follow up. At one time I had heard that the risk of infection from a single exposure was pretty low (like less than 10%) and lower than Hepatitis B, so we will send lots of good thoughts your way.
    Good luck.
  4. by   SoCalGAL
    Dear psychnurse,
    I can only imagine the stress that you're going through now. How is your employer helping you deal with your situation? I agree with MollyJ and encourage you to seek the advice of a private attorney, at the very least, you will be confident that YOUR attorney is looking out for your best interests. If you haven't done so already, take the time to sit down and write out the incident IN DETAIL so that you have an account to give if you are able to pursue litigation. As we tell our patients, write out a list of questions that you have when you visit your attorney- stress and memory don't always work together! At the very least, your facility should be providing prophylaxis against HIV and I hope, crisis counseling.Take care and let us know how you are doing- WE ARE HERE FOR YOU, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.


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