Safety precautions in HIV blood drawing?

  1. I'm returning to patient care, considering a job as a Research RN in HIV medicine, and find that what's concerning me is the necessity of my drawing blood as I'm not aware of what kind of safety devices are now routinely in use, eg: sheathed needles...I am hoping someone online here can enlighten me as to what kind of precautions can be taken to limit needle stick accidents....and also, is there anyone who routinely draws blood of HIV+ patients? if so how do you deal with the risks involved? I am finding this aspect of the job very disturbing, more than I would have imagined; I haven't been doing phlebotomy on a regular basis, to say the least, and, as I said, am not aware of what kind of safety devices are now used....and I don't want to be overly focused on this, but....
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  2. 6 Comments

  3. by   MPHkatie
    I work in the ED and probably 1/2 of the patients I draw blood from have HIV or AIDS. I actually pretend all my patients have the disease, because actually many who are infected don't know it. So really every time you draw blood you put yourself at risk, not just for HIV, but Hepatitis C and some other nasties. We have safety needles that retract a needle into a sheath and butterflys that allow you to sheath the needle right after you take it out of the patient, I am not sure they prevent exposures, but I suppose they are better than the alternative. HIV actually is a fairly weak virus and can't survive in the air for very long (unlike Anthrax and some others) I have had one exposure (a splash not a stick) and I can't say that was easy, but I still just take precautions like gloves, and disposing of needles as soon as I use them.
    you aren't alone, however, there are a few nurses I work with who have a terrible time putting IV's into HIV positive patients. They also have a tendency to treat these patients as if HIV is going to jump out of the patient and "get them" which generally creates problems. Maybe you could talk to the RN who had the position ahead of you and ask her how it was for her (him). Good Luck with your new career.
  4. by   caroladybelle
    Steen,

    I worked an infectious disease/HIV unit right after nursing school. So , I started out being cautious, a habit that has persisted since. The best advice that I can give is taking a few deep breathes before doing your venapuncture, to calm yourself. A nervous nurse is dangerous (to herself & others). Also, HIV is a fragile virus, present in extremely small amounts (unlike Hepatitis B/?C- which lives long outside the body and is present in much larger amounts) and therefore difficult to pass. I presume with the current treatments (not in use when I worked the unit), the viral loads should be lower, making passing the disease much less likely. There are also self-sheathing IV needles to use as well as safety needles to draw blood with.

    While working the ID unit, I did get stuck w/2 contaminated needles (Hep) - the patient turned out a light - I tripped & they went through my hand. Scared the daylights out of me but my bloodwork has always been clean luckily. God is kind!
    :angel2:
  5. by   donmurray
    Universal Precautions and the various safety devices available should keep you safer. check with procedure manuals, and/or your occupational health dept. Enjoy your new job!
  6. by   boobaby42
    Treat all blood as if it is HIV positive blood. Using the same universal precautions with all patients, as if everybody is positive for HIV.
  7. by   JMP
    Universal precautions.

    The only way to work.
  8. by   School-Mom
    Actually, my cousin who works as a nurse, just stuck herself with a needle when doing a venipuncture on an HIV + patient. She dropped the needle after the venipuncture, and picked up the needle and poked herself in the finger. I don't know if she was using a safety needle - I guess she would have to be. But is there something else that she could have done to have prevented this? (Is there a pair of tongs around?....)

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