I am a fairly new nurse working on a Labor and Delivery ward. Yesterday while caring for a Labor patient who tested positive for Hepatitis C I used proper precautions throughout all interactions with her. I even ended up delivering the baby and had no issues with exposure due to taking proper precautions.
After the delivery I was washing the bloody delivery instruments wearing only gloves. I filled the dish and soaked the instruments for maybe a minute and then rinsed that water which most of the blood came off with but obviously still had some clotted pieces and whatnot on the clamps. When I turned the tap on to soak the instruments a second time the splash back from the tap hitting the dish with the bloodied instruments went into my eye. (So could have been blood, could have been water could have been blood mixed with water, no one can know.) I immediately went to the eyewash station and rinsed my eyes for approximately 5-10 minutes (it felt like a life time). I then reported it to my manager who sent me down to ER. They did some baseline blood tests, reassured me that my chances of contracting the virus is low and informed me to get blood testing in 6 weeks, 3 months and 6 months to monitor for the virus. Here is where I got even more emotional than I already was, they also informed me that I am pregnant.
What I am asking from you guys is reassurance and support emotionally as well as any stories about health care workers being exposed to Hep C that you can off. I can look up all the statistics in the world but nothing feels better than reassurance from friends. I feel embarrassed about being vulnerable about the situation in front of my coworkers and crying (probably cried more than a regular person would because of finding out I am pregnant). I work in a small hospital and now the entire maternity ward will know what happened, as well as the ED and the medical ward as well because the nurse they pulled for me to leave came from medical. I am embarrassed about crying and I am embarrassed about it happening. Am I over reacting? Should I stress endlessly for 6 months until I get that final negative. If you made it this far and have anything you can input then please do (and yes from now on I will be taking precautions when cleaning bloodied instruments-lesson learned).
Hello, SDKRN -
Without offering medical advice or giving empty reassurances - - no. You should not stress endlessly for the next 6 months. Regardless of anything else it simply would not be good for you and you kind of need to take an active role in making your mind be reasonable about this.
My suggestion would be to contact employee health services now (I assume you were referred to your organization's version of employee health following your ED visit) rather than assuming you won't be interacting with them until it's time for your interval assessment. See if you can make an appointment to speak with them; it's okay to let them know you are scared and struggling and are hoping someone could help you gain a little perspective.
You probably haven't had much time to think about it, but will you be seeking OB care with one of the physicians/practices familiar to you? If so, they/their office might be willing to do an early pregnancy visit, not because there's a medical need but because I think you could benefit emotionally from having a support network.
As far as your coworkers knowing about this, please don't make yourself crazy about it - people are understanding, compassionate, etc. Things happen and they know that.
Things are going to work themselves out! It would be sad for you to struggle needlessly.
Why are you ashamed of crying? You were exposed to a life threatening disease, and had every right to be upset. You're not a robot. I can assure you that unless you spend the next 6 months crying during every shift, no one will even think twice about it. Your reaction was completely normal and human. Anyone who dares to have a problem with that is a heartless a**h**e and you should say that straight to their face.
I will reassure you that your chances of contracting HepC are extremely low, but I suspect that won't help. You can't perseverate on it for six solid months though. You'll have to work on effectively redirecting your thoughts.
Congrats on your pregnancy!