Nurses and exposure risk

Nurses General Nursing


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29 Posts


You will get over this fear rather quickly! I'm not a nurse just yet, but I am a PCA in the ICU. Germs and bodily fluids used to get me all worked up. Now I find I am less worried about what my patients can give me and am more worried about what I can pick up outside of the hospital! I always, always, always wear a mask with shield when doing anything that involves bathing, cleaning up a leaky flexiseal, etc. You never know when you might get a little splash. As far as my patients coughing in my direction I am not so concerned about that. You will be fine. Just take advantage if your PPE and wash those hands!


537 Posts

I have been a nurse for many years now, and I must say, I very rarely get sick with anything. Maybe I just have a good immune system. Try to eat immune-boosting foods and get plenty of sleep. I also hate it when patients cough right smack in your face. Sometimes I am more afraid of germs outside the hospital, such as at restaurants. I always scrub my hands well after shopping, and don't touch anything in a public restroom!

A sneeze travels from 60 to 100 feet.


537 Posts

First job was plasmapheresis. Gloves were available, none of us wore them, ever. We were told that the clients felt 'dirty' if we wore gloves to stick them. And there was blood all over that place. They'd pas out, the needles would fall out, the cell bags would leak/rupture, etc. 1980's.

Music in My Heart

1 Article; 4,109 Posts

Specializes in being a Credible Source.

I don't care how they feel. I wear gloves all the time... if anybody makes an issue, I point out that for the sake of all of my patients, I presume everybody's got MRSA/VRE/Hep/AIDS/Ebola/Hanta Virus/TB/Distemper/Parvo... the gloves are good for all of us.

Specializes in FNP, ONP.

I worked on an HIV unit back in the day when we work full bio-hazard hear to go into the room! Glad that era is over. I am not a germaphobe and never have been, but I think I am slightly more cognizant of hand washing in flu season! ;) You are going to catch a lot of colds from your patients, but probably nothing more serious than that. Truth be told, you will probably give more than you get.

Universal precautions, hand washing, and learn not to sweat the small stuff.


537 Posts

I don't care how they feel. I wear gloves all the time... if anybody makes an issue' date=' I point out that for the sake of all of my patients, I presume everybody's got MRSA/VRE/Hep/AIDS/Ebola/Hanta Virus/TB/Distemper/Parvo... the gloves are good for all of us.[/quote']

Of it all, MRSA spooks me the most. Can you say: necrotizing fasciitis, really fast?

Specializes in Orthopedic, LTC, STR, Med-Surg, Tele.

Don't put your face close to things that may splatter.

I'm serious. I'm terrible with those piston syringes. I turn my face away if I'm emptying it into something. Same with wound drains. You would think it would be common sense but I am currently red-faced from being SO EXCITED to see if my cupcakes were done that I bent way over to look in the oven as I opened it.

Specializes in Critical Care, Education.

I think that we are all pretty conscientious about gloves, but eye protection is not always on the forefront - and it SHOULD BE! I personally know of 2 ICU nurses who had to deal with really nasty corneal infections after 'splashback' incidents. One who developed a full-blown herpes infection ended up having to get a corneal transplant. Just sayin' -- be careful out there.


437 Posts

Have worked in hospitals for 45 years now and have never picked anything up from patients. That was even before the advent of gloves for anything and everything. Obviously our immune system must take care of a lot of things we never even know about so, I say, if you have a decent immune system and don't have aids or something, RELAX.


133 Posts

Hi. I am just wondering everyone's opinion on nurses and exposures to blood born pathogens. I'm a relatively new nurse and I wonder that with as much handling as I do with bodily fluids is there a chance that something could splash in my eye in small (I'm mean really small) amounts and I might not know it and it lead to infection? All my life I've been pretty OCD and worried about "germs' date='" and now that I'm a nurse I worry more with all the close patient contact I have each day. What are your thoughts?[/quote']

Wear eyeglasses...go to lenscrafters or anywhere like that and get no rx glasses....

Bring a change of clothes to work.

For the shoes, step on caviwipes or paper towels soaked with bleach.

I'm a germ conscious person too.

Oh cover full bedpans with a towel...

And for the microscopic stuff that just floats around, just stay healthy. Your body fights stuff like all the time...


20 Posts

I have been working in the operating room long before eye PPE gear was required, for 22 years as a scrub tech. I have had blood splashed into my eyes, been stabbed in emergencies by long #11 blades, and been stuck with numerous needles. I have always been tested followed up and never had anything come of it. Not to say it doesn't happen but converting to positive happens less than most think it does.

Now, I still protect myself and on some occasions things have happened but in lot less numbers due to PPE and use it.


146 Posts

Specializes in Med/surg, ER/ED,rehab ,nursing home.

My one and only dirty needle stick was from an IM injection that I had given to a patient with stomach cancer. 15 years later, I am diagnosed with stomach cancer. Makes me wonder what else can be transmitted.

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