Need Educated Help, Please

  1. Hi everyone. I received this email from a friend and would like to know if anyone has anything I can tell this person.

    "Laura, my friend who is very precious to everyone is working in the toy section and is manager at a large chain store ***-Mart. However, as she was in the midst of cleaning up her area, she got stuck and upon looking further she found a bent needle on a syringe with dried blood. The store didn't even fill out an accident report. When she insisted that she go to the Dr. and get tested, they weren't that concerned. The pills that the Dr. gave her was like a pill that should have killed anything related to a virus that could have been on that needle. The company is not concerned about her at all. She is so afraid to say anything because she feels that they will try to get rid of her. She can't afford to leave because of the insurance benefits that she has. When she does testing on AIDS, how long does it take and how long can it lye in her body until it could surface? She has two small kids and her and her hubbie take all sorts of precautions now days. Her 10 year old daughter is having nightmares over this. Can you tell me anything that I could try to help her with?"

    I have already advised her to have her friend get tested immediately and to fill out an accident report whether the store wants her to or not. Does anyone know anything about the legality of the situation? Doesn't the employer have to give her coverage if it happened at work, as in workman's comp and isn't it illegal to fire her? I'm not sure how long ago this occured, but I can find out. Is this woman at less of a risk of exposure if the blood is dried? I have told my friend I am searching for info and will get back to her.

    Thanks,
    Laura
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  2. 10 Comments

  3. by   Charles S. Smith, RN, MS
    [QUOTE]Originally posted by LauraRN0501
    [B]Hi everyone. I received this email from a friend and would like to know if anyone has anything I can tell this person.

    OSHA regulations protect her. She definitely needs to fill out some sort of occurrence report, contact an anonymous source for HIV testing, and begin looking for a lawyer in case she must protect herself in the courts. It will be helpful if she saved the needle and syringe....but she must report in any case.

    regards
    chas
  4. by   Y2KRN
    Hello Laura,

    Your friend definately has to fill out some kind of report and contact a lawyer and OSHA. She is at risk for anything who knows where that needle has been. I know that even with dry blood the risk for Hep is great!! The Hep B virus can last a long time on a surface, she should insist she gets the vaccine for this as well as some sort of AIDs testing. Good luck!

    Y2KRN
  5. by   fiestynurse
    This is covered under workers compensation and they should be paying for all testing and medical bills involved. Yes, it is illegal for them to fire her if she files a claim re: this work related injury. In the meantime, she should see a doctor (preferably one that has experience in workers comp health issues similar to this) and get tested immediately for AIDS, Hep B and C. Atleast there will be documentation by the doctor as to what happened. Prophylactic meds should be offered to her and she should be retested in 6 months. Lets hope and pray that everything comes back negative. If she has any further problems with her employer, I would definitely consult an attorney that specializes in workers comp law. Not only does she have a medical claim, but she could have a psych claim for the emotional stress that it has caused her. I am always amazed at the lack of concern that employers show when something like this happens.
    Has she missed any work because of this incident? They should be paying her temporary disability for any days missed. She shouldn't have to use her vacation or sick-time for this.
  6. by   Sharon
    Laura,

    I have about 5 retail employees stuck each year by a dirty needle. Our employees do the same work up as a hospital employee would. They are also offered PEP within 60 minutes and most elect to take the medication. After the emergency room evaluation I refer them and get them an Infectious Disease appointment within 24 hours. All costs are covered by workers comp including the psychological care.
  7. by   LauraRN0501
    Thank you all so much for the information. I have forwarded every reply to my friend, but haven't heard anything back as yet. I am sure that everyone's advice and comments will be put to wonderful use and I will keep you all updated as to the results!

    Laura
  8. by   NRSKarenRN
    Laura:

    Here are some links for you to look at re post exposure treatment.

    From ANA easily readable post exposure plan using least technical language:
    http://www.nursingworld.org/dlwa/osh/blood.htm

    From University of Virginia: International Healthcare Worker Center multiple links re needlesticks injury and OSHA:
    http://www.med.virginia.edu/medcntr/...inet/home.html

    also see other goverment links here:
    http://www.med.virginia.edu/medcntr/...net/links.html

    Your friend will need some emotional support until her test results are known. Tell her she can come her to post questions/get support. By submitting an accident report, she will put the burden on her employer for providing medical care and any follow-up needed. I also hope she kept the syringe as proof and that management observed the injury.

    We keep your friend in our thoughts and prayers.
  9. by   BeachNurse
    I agree with the others as far as the OSHA regs. The fear of Hepatitis B is much greater than for HIV. She should still be tested for HIV anyway, since it was a needlestick. She will have to return again in 6 months to retest, and then again one year from the incident. Tell her to try not to worry too much about HIV. It doesn't live for more than a couple minutes outside the body. In addition, only people who have very high viral loads of the virus, along with other signs of severe immunodefieciency actually develop AIDS. I will be happy to provide more information of you need it.
  10. by   jamistlc
    [QUOTE]Originally posted by Charles S. Smith, RN, MS
    [B]
    Originally posted by LauraRN0501
    Hi everyone. I received this email from a friend and would like to know if anyone has anything I can tell this person.

    OSHA regulations protect her. She definitely needs to fill out some sort of occurrence report, contact an anonymous source for HIV testing, and begin looking for a lawyer in case she must protect herself in the courts. It will be helpful if she saved the needle and syringe....but she must report in any case.

    regards
    chas
    I am not just a nurse but an American Red Cross HIV/AIDS Education Instructor! Listen carefully, I AGREE WITH EVERYTHING THE POST HERE SAYS! In addition the pill the doc gave your friend can not kill all infectious pathogens that may have been on that needle. In addition I would get a passive immunity shot for Hep B (I forget the brand name) as Hep B is more likely to be viable in that needle, than HIV. I would get the Anonymous test so that insurance can not say it is a prexisisting condition if it does return a positive result, then I would get tested every 3 months for 1 year! I would ask about prophalytic treatment for HIV too. I would get it documented as an accident as OSHA requires all employers to keep these records and contact your states employment services for further action if your employer remains unhelpful. Also your senator and Congressional Representatives can help since the store is not in compliance with federal standards! Good luck and please follow my advice. It is what I teach!
  11. by   CEN35
    laura,
    everybody else is right on! osha, and workers comp, should both cover it. the store obviously does not want to pay increased money to them. the number of claims an employer has per year, affects how they work and/or pay into workmans comp. she should fill one out right away, and start getting tested.
    hiv is really pretty insignificant......in this case........as it is not a hardy virus and does not live outside the body for more more than a minute or two.
    hepatitis can be active in dried blood for 72 hours to 10 days at almost any temperature and condition. it amazes me that so much emphasis is put on hiv, when hepatitis is much much easier to contract.....and can have the same outcome as hiv and maybe even quicker in some cases.
    your friend needs to be tested for the hiv/hepatitis anti-bodies once a month for 6 months. the longest it has taken for anti-bodies to show up after infection is just short of 180 days (6 months). hope this helps.
  12. by   LauraRN0501
    Thanks to all for all the help. I am forwarding EVERY ONE of these messages on in the hopes that your suggestions would be followed. I knew this would be the right place to go!

    Laura

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Need Educated Help, Please