Coworker had a needle stick, HR is not supportive

  1. So the patient doesn't have any communicable disease via blood according to his most recent tests, but this is in long term care and they're probably old [I'm uncertain]. She reported right away but said she felt ok and didn't need to go to the doctor. A few days later she realized after worrying that she should go to the doctor and get tested/maybe take preventive measures.

    HR is saying that because she refused care the day it happened, it's no longer their responsibility and she can go to the doctor but they're not going to pay for it. Is this ok for HR to do? What can we do to advocate for her, like we thought HR should be doing?
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    About mc-escher, RN

    Joined: Oct '15; Posts: 16; Likes: 11
    Nursing student; from IL , US

    16 Comments

  3. by   Been there,done that
    HR does care about this issue. She need to report it NOW to her manager and occupational disease. She will require initial labs and follow labs for 9 months.

    Best wishes to your friend.
  4. by   TruvyNurse
    Why on earth would you refuse treatment and bloodwork after a needle stick from anyone?! I've taken care of plenty of elderly with HIV and Hep C. No one is "safe" because of their age.
  5. by   KelRN215
    Quote from TruvyNurse
    Why on earth would you refuse treatment and bloodwork after a needle stick from anyone?! I've taken care of plenty of elderly with HIV and Hep C. No one is "safe" because of their age.
    Risk-benefit analysis. I've stuck myself with a subq needle while giving a 2 year old an injection and didn't even report it. Not worth my time or a second thought, in my opinion. The odds of a child having HIV or Hep C and it being unknown are extremely small.

    OP, this situation has nothing to do with HR. Occupational Health is the department that this concerns.
  6. by   Rose_Queen
    Quote from mc-escher
    HR is saying that because she refused care the day it happened, it's no longer their responsibility and she can go to the doctor but they're not going to pay for it. Is this ok for HR to do? What can we do to advocate for her, like we thought HR should be doing?
    Basically, she has no way of proving that the needlestick is the cause of any positive test result that may happen in the future. A "few days" is time to be exposed outside of work, and it would be on her to prove the exposure at work and not elsewhere led to the positive. I've seen this happen before where someone reported a needlestick after the fact- it's an issue with not following the protocol/policy of having lab work obtained.
  7. by   TruvyNurse
    Quote from KelRN215
    Risk-benefit analysis. I've stuck myself with a subq needle while giving a 2 year old an injection and didn't even report it. Not worth my time or a second thought, in my opinion. The odds of a child having HIV or Hep C and it being unknown are extremely small.

    OP, this situation has nothing to do with HR. Occupational Health is the department that this concerns.
    Kel, I get where you are coming from. I do agree an infant is a smaller chance. However I have just heard horror stories of infected infants and I would be too darn paranoid to NOT report a stick. Just me I guess
  8. by   Rocknurse
    My facility has a policy that you have to report to HR within so many hours of a needle stick. It's part of our annual mandatory education. I'm thinking that because she delayed, and did not follow policy, that HR are now washing their hands of it (excuse the pun). She should have reported immediately. It's no longer HR's concern.
  9. by   Have Nurse
    Have her check with her State Department. See what the rules are. In any case, she still should get seen and tested.

    Fair Employment Practices Agencies

    Hope this helps. Also, she should document when, with Whom, and what was said for the record.
  10. by   Ruby Vee
    Quote from mc-escher
    So the patient doesn't have any communicable disease via blood according to his most recent tests, but this is in long term care and they're probably old [I'm uncertain]. She reported right away but said she felt ok and didn't need to go to the doctor. A few days later she realized after worrying that she should go to the doctor and get tested/maybe take preventive measures.

    HR is saying that because she refused care the day it happened, it's no longer their responsibility and she can go to the doctor but they're not going to pay for it. Is this ok for HR to do? What can we do to advocate for her, like we thought HR should be doing?
    What is the facility's policy on reporting at-work injuries? Did she fill out the appropriate paperwork for an at-work injury? Is there an occupational health department? In most places, Occupational Health would be dealing with this, not Human Resources.

    If she hasn't already, instruct your friend to fill out the proper paperwork and submit it to your manager for review. Then follow the guidelines of your facility.
  11. by   cleback
    Quote from KelRN215
    Risk-benefit analysis. I've stuck myself with a subq needle while giving a 2 year old an injection and didn't even report it. Not worth my time or a second thought, in my opinion. The odds of a child having HIV or Hep C and it being unknown are extremely small.

    OP, this situation has nothing to do with HR. Occupational Health is the department that this concerns.
    Sorry but this is not good decision. Studies have come out that 1/3 of babies born to hcv antibody positive mothers are not getting tested (published in MMWR in Oct 2017). It's still too risky not to report needlesticks.
  12. by   kbrn2002
    I'm sorry but in this case I side with the employer. If she filed an incident report as soon as it happened and then refused the recommended follow up she can't change her mind later and expect the employer to pay for it.

    With the time lapse between reporting the needle stick and seeking testing there would be no way for the employee to prove that any positive test results were from that needle stick and not from some exposure that occurred outside of work.

    If she had followed the proper protocol and was seen immediately as recommended then any subsequent follow up testing would be considered part of the initial treatment and the employer should pay for it.
  13. by   Meriwhen
    Every facility I've worked at had a protocol for reporting work injuries (needlesticks included), including when it had to be reported by and where to go for treatment. All of them required it to be reported before the end of shift and treatment to be sought that day, either at one of their medical offices or urgent care centers, or if after hours, at one of the EDs. If we failed to follow that protocol, the employer was off the hook for treatment costs and/or workman's comp claims.

    She should report it to her manager and occupational health ASAP. However, if there was a policy in place for reporting work injuries and your friend failed to follow it, she may be out of luck as far as getting her employer to cover any treatment. Employers really don't like it when P&Ps aren't followed. Consider it an expensive lesson learned.

    The incidence of contracting something via needlestick is very small, less than 1%. However, that doesn't mean anyone should fail to report it. Nor should they skip getting treatment, as prompt treatment can reduce that risk even further.

    Best of luck to her.
  14. by   mc-escher
    Thanks for all the insights! For the record, I do agree that it was unwise to refuse testing and treatment when it happened. I'm just presenting the facts. My first response was telling her nicely that refusing the testing may have taken away her chances of getting support from our employer with doctor visits or medications. It's frustrating that the human resources officer wouldn't do more to advocate for employees but I understand the legalities here.

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