It is more like a shock than a stick.

Another Saturday night, another rather intoxicated and uncooperative assault *victim*.
You have just completed a venipuncture and as you begin to withdraw metal from flesh the patient executes a flailing crocodile roll. His arm slaps against yours and the needle slices through latex and deep into your finger.

The sharp sting of the needle is accompanied by the sensation of your bowel squirting out your rectum like silly-string. Yes, it is definitely an awful moment for any nurse or doctor.

At some stage in our career many of us will receive a needle-stick injury. Over the twenty years that I have been working in the emergency department, I have had eight. Incredibly, three of those were during the resuscitation of a single patient. Thank-you very much Dr Zhivago*.
(*not his real name.)

These days needle-stick injuries are much more easily preventable. Many needle-less systems have been developed to eliminate the need for sharps in activities such as drawing up antibiotics and administering IV medications. Sharps bins should be in abundance in the work environment ensuring rapid and safe disposal of contaminated equipment.
Unfortunately, we still need to puncture our way through the skin to take blood, insert cannulas, deliver intramuscular injections and access a multitude of bodily cavities.

risk of infection.

In most cases the actual risk of transmission of a blood borne pathogen following a needle-stick is extremely low. The most commonly transmissible diseases of concern to nurses are the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis C virus (HCV) and hepatitis B virus (HBV).
Hepatitis B: Of these HBV is the most transmissible, with a risk of infection following exposure of around 6-30%. (Staff that have achieved immunity after being covered with the hepatitis B vaccine are practically immune.)
Hepatitis C: Infection from HCV following a needle-stick is around 1.8%.
HIV: Risk of becoming infected with HIV is a mere 0.3%.

Of course the chance of transmission occurring is dependent of several factors including:
The viral load of the source person at the time of transmission.
The volume of infected blood transferred.

universal precautions:

Always observe universal precautions. If you practice nothing else, practice this: every single patient you look after is HIV positive, is oozing with Hepatitis, Syphilis, and crawling with MRSA.
Got that? Now protect yourself accordingly:

  • Wash your hands. Before and after any intervention.
  • Gloves, and eye protection, without exception.
  • Use safety needles and cannulas. If your hospital is not using some form of safety cannula, you should definitely throw a big tantrum.
  • Needles should go directly from patient into sharps bin in one motion. Never leave a sharp laying around to take care of *in just a second*.
  • Never, ever try to re-sheath or re-cap a needle.
  • 100% attention when handling sharps.
  • 200% attention when handling butterfly needles. They are springy little buggers and will flick around and bite you given half a chance.

Once bitten:

If you do experience a needle stick injury, immediately wash the site well with water. Squeezing or milking the site is of little benefit.
You should then activate your own hospitals policy for post occupational exposure management.
Remember, the risk of transmission is determined by the type of exposure rather than the patients risk factors.
You and your patient will probably both need blood taken for serological testing for hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), and HIV as soon as possible.
Depending on your immunization status you may need to have a course of HBV vaccine and a dose of hep B immunoglobulin.
If a significant exposure to HIV has occurred, retroviral drug prophylaxis should be offered promptly. Use of such post exposure prophylaxis is not to be treated lightly and expert guidance should be sought. Read up on your own hospitals policy.

needle and the damage done:

Having the statistics on your side does not lessen the anguish of sustaining a needle-stick injury.
I remember several years ago (before we had safety cannula’s) a member of our staff was stabbed in the palm with a large trocar needle as she was collecting up a pile of rubbish left on an IV trolley. At that time we had an HIV positive patient on the ward who had recently been cannulated. No one knew if this was the needle used on him.
Everything turned out OK, but the mental stress placed on this nurse was significant.

No matter how low-risk the needle stick injury may have been it may still cause you significant distress. If this is the case you should seek professional counselling.

384 Responses to “needle stick injury.”

  1. While working on a church mission project to clear a trash-strewn lot overgrown with huge weeds in an inner city area known to be frequented by intravenous drug users, I was stuck with a needle concealed in a bunch of cut weeds I had lifted, with gloved hands, to place in a trash bag. The mission director took me to the ER where I had bloodwork done for Hep B, Hep C and HIV (all negative). I was innoculated with the first of three Hep B vaccination shots and began (and am continuing) 30 days of antiretroviral therapy (Truvada and Isentress). Questions: (1) Am I correct in assuming that my husband and I should practice safe sex, and for how long??? (2) I have the syringe/needle that pricked me; does anyone know where I could have it analyzed for presence of Hep B and Hep C (at least)? I live in the Washington DC area. (3) Can anyone recommend an infectious disease physician to monitor my case/guide me on questions like these? I have requested a referral from my internist’s practice group and will see a physician assistant there today (best they would do for me!). My internet research in this specialty did not result in my finding suitable physicians. I would appreciate advice and help! I am worried.

  2. My husband is a garbage man and he picked up a trash bag and got pricked from a needle in the bag .he was rushed to the er they drew blood and got all the shots required and now its been two weeks on the meds after adjusting the doses what I wanna know is how soon can we have physical contact? We have been safe but we have been married 27 years I just miss my husband

  3. Hi I am so stressing I feel like my medical provider doesn’t care on wed I was changing the bathroom trash at work and while taking it back I felt like something had poked my knee I really hurt but didn’t think anything of it I mention it to my supervisor and she had me roll up my pants and to my surprise I had a red dor with a tad of blood on it I freaked out I automatically new it was a needle. my co worker and I went thru the trash and to my surprise we food the needle. I was so pissed offand still am to this moment it was someones insulin needel. I am aware that they teach them how to despose of the properly how dare some one not care about putting someone life at risk. just because you have diabities doesn’t mean u aren’t caring any disese so I am not calm I am in a serois relationship and we have a child together and all I can think about is them. Doctor only offered me to do blood work but my nerves and stress level are out of this world. How can some one live on waiting for test result every 3, 6, or 12 months were it can just change ur life for ever one day ur negative and the other ur positive I am being told not to worry but it is hard. I even took the needle to my doctor thinking that they could do some csi shit and test it and tell me if there was anything on there but no he said I could have it . the only thing that eases me that my company will pay for all expense if there is a need to do an hiv treatment because it hear it is very expensive but that just doesn’t make my life normal afterall

  4. I was stuck by a needle in to a varicose vein in my leg. The needle stuck in to a vein in my leg and bent the needle and I endured a second needle stick in the finger when pushing the needle out of my leg. The needle was uncapped with over 10ml of blood and drugs in it when hidden in a bag by a client at my place of work. I am a social worker in a residential support. The City of Kawartha Lakes police in my town of Lindsay Ontario said it was not a police matter, refused to investigate, did not speak to any witnesses, and destroyed the bag of needles and wet and dry blood swabs, crack cookers and other drug paraphernalia that were housed in the thin plastic bag, where the needle was that stuck me. Under the blood mandatory act in Ontario you have to be a police officer, medical professional , prison guard to make a demand of blood on the person whose needle it was, or be designated a victim of a crime. The woman whose needle it was said she had Hep C. It was unknown if she had HIV. I went to the hospital – they did not provide any preventative measures for HIV as they were unaware of the PEP needle. There is nothing you can take to ward of Hepatitis C. When I reported the police officer the next day, for not doing anything and just letting the addict go, and destroying the other items, the Inspector said it was his case and now closed. He also refused to do anything and refused to test the needle. My life stopped as I knew it, and I became fearful of being infected with life threatening diseases. This fear resulted in PTSD. The fear and anxiety of not knowing what was in the needle I was stuck with was overwhelming as I also heard the addict shared needles with other drug users. What about HIV? – the police are now being sued, for not investigating or doing anything to assist me or testing the needle. It has taken me three years to get this to trial. The police have still refused to test the needle that remains in their evidence room to this day. I had to undergo a year of a series of testing to see if I was infected. Fortunately I showed clean of life threatening diseases of Hep C, HIV and Hep B – but continue to worry about what other infectious diseases were in the blood. When this happened it felt like I was raped and could not get the dirt out me. I was afraid to be intimate with my husband, afraid to kiss my children and grandchildren in fear of infecting them. Recently a case in Sherbrooke Quebec Nov. 2012 sentencing has set precedence in Canadian law that recognizes the seriousness of needle stick injuries and trauma. I hope to continue to bring awareness to the seriousness of this trauma,so that others will never be treated with such disregard as I was treated by the Inspctor and Chief of the police in Lindsay. To have been told by the police Inspector of CKLP and the Chief, that my injury is considered trivial and transient in nature, by law, has only made me more committed in ensuring no one has to be treated this way, anywhere, and that needle stick trauma is understood. Take time to see Sherbrooke Police supports of the victims of needle stick trauma. Hats off to them for doing it right.
    I believe systems can change one person at a time and hope that those who have had to go through this trauma know that there are those who will continue to bring awareness, in this day an age, to needle stick injuries. Thank you for providing the forum for people to express how they feel and to know they are not alone.

  5. Hey….im a dental student and i was doing scaling on a patient…..during the scaling the instrument slipped and came on my hand,,,,and i felt a sharp prick like sensation…after completing the treatment and removing my gloves i checked my finger and couldnt see any apparent cut or prick…but i could see a very minute red line …i dnt even knw if i was imgining this …but considering dat i got a very minute prick …wat r the chances that i can get hiv…..??

  6. hi..i have a cousin who’s a hep b positive.. yesterday i was pricked by a needle used when she got a tattoo last year. she took it from the the artist so that her virus won’t spread. but poor me i was reaching for my band when i felt something pricked me & there was the blasted needle.. i just finished my hep b series january of this year & the last june my anti hbs was reactive..but i’m still afraid that i might catch the virus. what should i do? thanks

  7. Hi, I am a Respiratory Therapy student and I had a needle stick about two days ago and the patient tested positive for Hep C!..such a horrible feeling..My question is if I had barely pierced the skin and needle was not in contact with blood and I pricked my finger through glove am I still at risk??..I thought it was just through contact with their blood?..thanks!!!!

  8. Hi, i feel sick to my stomach right now!!! I’m a healthcare worker and in all of the 10 years of career today is the first day that ive experienced a needle stick injury and the patient has a history of hep c…. even though ive been vaccinated with the hep c series, im still nervous wrack. The doctor at the office i wotk at told me that i have nothing to worry about, my nerves are on edge. I feel so stupid and careless right now, even though in my

    • There is no Hep C vaccine! You got the Hep B series. You should be tested now for Hep C,HIV and Hep B then again in 6 months and again in 1 year. The chance is low to get Hep c from needle stick, but you should seek medical treatment for any needle stick.

  9. When I was about 13 I got Hepatitis. This was about 47 years ago. The doctor never said how I may have gotten it, but this doctor had given me a penicillin shot shortly before I got hepatitis. Did doctors back then reuse needless, or might they not have sterilized it properly? I really don’t know if it was A, B or C. I do know I got jaundice, my best friend had to be vaccinated and I was quaritined for several Weeks. How can I find out what kind of Hepatitis I got. I have been told to never try to give blood because even though i’m fine I was still a carrier. Help.

  10. hi =) i was at my aunts alteration shop where i placed my laptop case,when i returned home apparently one of the needles stuck to my laptop case and then when i took it out of my car the needle pinched my leg. It made a small red dot,where my mom told me to squeeze out blood and then she put alcohol on the area. what should i do? it it ok? or should I get tested by any chance. PLEASE REPLY

  11. So happy that I found this thread because I too had an on the job needle stick injury and need a place to vent. I am a new grad RN recently off of orientation. I was having a great day and wanted to change out an old IV in a patient. Being new, I haven’t been able to start IVs that well so I was extra excited about the idea of me actually getting it on my own without having to ask for help. I gathered all my equipment and brought a couple angiocaths in case I didn’t get it the first time. Upon first stick I slightly missed the vein and after I removed the needle, the dirty tip somehow grazed my opposite gloved finger before I hit the safety. At that moment I blacked out in disbelief wondering if this truly happened to me. Then I calmly bandaged the site, cleared up my supplies, and left the room. I was praying that I had just imagined the prick but sure enough when I took my glove off, there were blood droplets where the needle had penetrated. My heart sunk even further and went immediately to the charge nurse who advised me to milk and thoroughly wash the site. Panic quickly set in and at that point I was terrified and full on crying. I quickly went to the ER where my BP was 190/96. BTW I’m in my 20′s and in great health as an avid marathon runner so this is completely atypical for me. The ER staff took great care of me and I soaked my finger in antiseptic for about 30 minutes. 1 hour later the rapid ELISA test for HIV came back neg for the patient and myself. For nursing school I got all 3 rounds of the Hep B vax so I’m good as far as Hep B. It has been 3 days and I got a call from employee health NP this morning who told me that the patient has come back positive for Hep C. I am very saddened because for the past 2 days I’ve been very hopeful and positive minded about my outcome. Today, I am back to a state of anxiety. I try not to think about it but when my mind wonders (which it frequently does) my eyes swell with tears and I feel like I can’t breathe. I am having trouble eating today. I think about the possibility of having a life limiting illness that might keep me from relationships or starting a family one day… Me and my boyfriend are getting serious and when I called him to tell him the news today it was one of the most horrible moments of my life. I know what happened was an accident so I do not blame anyone but I feel so stupid for making this careless mistake. I keep telling myself that I will be ok and reminding myself that the actual transmission rate is only 1.8% for Hep C but this does little to put my mind at ease right now. I have to somehow calm down and wait for 3 and 6 months until further blood work is done. This event has been the most terrible experience and it has me reassessing if this job is truly worth my potential health and the amount of stress this has caused me??? I will pray for all of us that are going through a similar hardship and give an update on what happens with me. Let’s try and stay strong together!

    • OMG! I am a new grad on orientation in the ER still and this happened to me last night while using a butterfly needle on a patient to get blood cultures. I went through the hospital protocol and we considered her a “low risk” patient. 3 minutes before going home the doctor told me she was positive for hep c…i wanted to laugh and cry because I didn’t know how to comprehend the news I just heard. I had to go home and tell my husband ( I felt like a leper). He was understanding, but I feel so awful and can’t stop thinking about what is to come…I hope to hear about your update, and good luck

  12. Im a correctional officer and i was poked by a needle that was poking out of an Offenders shoe. I got the tests done and i am still awaiting the results. I am recently married and i am more concered about my wife and our future plans to start a family

  13. i am a nurse and i got stuck last 6-8months ago. i got pricked after giving a shot of insulin (pen type) to my patient. i immediately reported it to my supervisor and was advised to go to ER. I go there but they didn’t do anything. until now, everytime i think of it, i am always afraid. i can’t sleep and eat well.

    I suggest that everyone that will be admitted to the hospital be tested for blood born diseases like HIV and hepatitis so that medical team will have an extra precaution taking care of them.

  14. Hi my names Tim my fiance was stuck by a emg needle at work the patient has a history of hep c we went right to the er to get test done and treatment. We are waiting for the results but will all have to wait the 6 months to be sure. It is driving me crazy we are young I am 23 and she is 21. We were also trying to have a baby which makes me even more scared now I don’t know what I would do if she got anything from this we are going to be getting married soon and I want to.spend the rest of my life with her and have a family. I can’t eat I can’t sleep I feel sick to my stomach. Someone please help

  15. If you get stuck by a needle, wash the site with betadine and let it air dry. It kills HIV! look it up on “Inactivation of human immunodeficiency virus by Betadine products and chlorhexidine”

  16. hi! im a nurse. I got pricked by a needle after giving lantus to a patient. unfortunately, that same day, my patient’s lab result was released and he has MRSA (METHICILLIN RESISTANT STAFYLOCCOCUS AUREUS). the sample was taken on my patient’s endotracheal tube. is there a possibility that i will acquire mrsa if i was pricked in from a needle used to a patient subcutaneously? i hope you could help me.

  17. Good day!
    My friend was accidentally pricked on her right thumb by a Novofine needle after giving Insulin to a Hep c positive patient, tried to wash in running water and let it bleed. What is the possibilty or id there a possibilty that my friend will acquire the disease?
    Thanks and more power…

  18. Hi, my nickname is Kimonoskunk, (as I’m afraid to post my real name, (until I get some needed advice).
    I am not a nurse or physician, but I am the person that handles all the sharps containers, for removal to be incinerated, or washed and returned. (I drive the trucks)
    Just this past Friday, I had returned to my shop and got started unloading the boxes from the truck.
    One cardboard box had 10 gallon red sharps containers in it, but had spilled over. I reached to upright the box, and got jabbed straight into the right hand with a needle that had protruded past the clear top of the sharps box. The box had been heavy, so I put some strength into grabbing the sharps cases.

    The needle had sunken in approximately an inch on an angle from my right hand, left lower side of the palm,straight towards the wrist. I immediately jumped backward and yelled, and had to remove the needle without breaking it, from my hand. I was wearing rubber palmed and nylon gloves with the rubber to grab the boxes easier.

    One other driver said… “Dude, you just screwed yourself for good…”

    I notified my boss, who sent me to the doctor / W-C office immediately. I had been ordered to do a urine sample and blood was drawn. The doc came in and all was said was come back the following week for a follow-up. And that the risks were small to nominal at best. No talk about Hep A B or C, only thing was asked when I had the shots. I replied 3 months ago when I was hired, and I had the allergic reaction to the MMR and Hep shots. I had the 2 Hep shots already, but the 3rd won’t be till Sept 12, my anniversary.

    From what I remember, the needle was from a sharps box, 7 gallon that fits into the patient’s wall box, with the split clear lid. And the customer was a surgical office, where they do full surgeries there, as far as I know. The box was full of needles from earlier that week, The gauge and size of the needle I don’t know. All I know is that I have a real fear of needles now since my allergy when I had the MMR, and I was out for 4 days.

    I am due to head back on Monday, but my wrist and hand are killing me, (#4 on a pain scale, 1-10) and now I have to take MORE needles for these tests. I am right handed and draw as a hobby, but now it hurts to sign my name on anything.

    Any and all comments and replies will be answered as best as I can.

    My questions are…. Don’t I get a checklist or something of what I might need to look for? More medications? What should I ask? My right hand is hurting, the ring and pinkie finger have pins and needles, and the hand is painful up to the mid forearm area, again with random pins and needles.

    Thank you and be blessed everyone…
    (A scared skunk)

  19. Hello everyone, I am thankful that I came across this board. I am also a health care worker who started a new job. I just finished orientation and was on my own and I was giving an insulin shot to a patient when I felt like a sting, I did not see the needls stick or how it happened exactly and a big part of me wasn’t sure if I got poked or not. This was in Febuary of this year. I was also afraid at the fact thet I just started on my own and did not want to be deemed incompetent. I dismissed the situation and did nothing, now all I can do is think about it every night. It turns out the patient was HEP C positive. The pt has been discharged and I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to say anything now that’s its been 2 months because I can be fired I’m sure for not following policy and procedure, Should I just go to my regular PCP and get HIV and Hep C tested. Any advice is greatly appreciated as this is killing me inside.

    • takia, think of your health now, not your job. go and get your blood tested for blood born diseases bec it might cause your life.

    • Getting HepC from a nedle injury is very very low. Go to any doctor and get a test don for Hep B, HepC and HIV. This must be hard on you, so dont do this to urself any longer . Your blood test will be just fine , but this will effect your mental health beyond repair . So go to the doctor and put ur health first not ur jo0b

    • This may be a late reply, but report it to your employer. I just experienced a needle stick injury two days ago and didn’t report it right away. I was scared I would lose my job and be deemed incompetent because I’m a new grad. However, the anxiety took over and I reported it. My supervisor and other nurses on my floor have been extremely supportive. I’ve also been reassured that no punitive action will take place… it was an accident and they happen.
      I just found out today that the patient that I was giving the subcutaneous injection to tested positive for Hep C. I spent most of my day crying and praying that I won’t get it. However, at least now I know what I’m up against. If you don’t report it, you may never know and your co-workers may be less supportive of your anxiety and depression. Good luck and I’ll pray for all of us!

  20. Accidently poked my finger after giving my grandfather his insulin shot
    I washed my finger right away. What should I do?

  21. I am a student nurse and got stuck 3 weeks ago. I reported it to my professor who milked the site and applied an alcohol swab. Within the hour I went to the er where I recvd a tetanus shot and had blood tests done. I had completed my hep b vaccinations 3 months prior and the patient consented to testing and everything came back negative. Due to incubation periods I still have to be retested at 6 weeks, 3 months and 6 months. I am trying not to worry but in class I am studying hep c and hiv and can’t help it. I know the chances are slim that I got anything but it is still very nerve racking. Reading the previous posts have been very helpful. If anybody has any advice or can offer reassurance it would be greatly appreciated.

  22. my wife’s blood work came back as “reactive for hep b” so now I am waiting on my blood work to come back…
    can somebody shed some light on hep b? i’ve been reading a lot, but what my doctor told me and what i read is totally different. how can you tell the difference between acute and chronic hep b? my doc said that hep b is like herpes – it stays with you forever… but that’s not what i read… what i read is that acute hep b goes away by itself. i just don’t know what’s right and if true, how can you tell you that you don’t have chronic hep b?

    and also – can we sue the hospital? my wife is afraid to tell people at the hospital that she is hep b reactive, because she is worried about negative retaliation of some sort, which I think is foolish… anyway – they have her transferred to case management for the mean time, away from exposure to patients, but I am more interested to know – how can we sue?

  23. I’m a respiratory therapist and I was pricked by a needle that was hidden in the hoodie of a patient in the ER. The patient had stopped me in the hallway and asked where she could find ice and water. Our cafeteria was closed so I told her to have a seat in the ER waiting room and I would find some water for her. When I returned with the water she engaged me in conversation. She was a very articulate young lady, about the age of my oldest daughter, and she admitted that she was a heroin addict but had gone through rehab and was trying to clean up. She was in the ER because she had been punched in the face pretty badly by some guys who wanted to steal her backpack. I felt bad for her and told her that if she kept herself clean, stayed away from people involved with drugs, and used the social services available in our city, she could beat this thing. She was so appreciative that I would spend 5 minutes listening to her that she hugged me. When I patted her on the shoulder to say “it’s going to be all right” I felt a sharp sting in my wrist. At first I thought that there was a staple in her sweatshirt but when I checked, she had a syringe hidden in the hoodie where the string belongs. I couldn’t believe that I had been stuck by a needle. My whole world just crumbled in front of me. I didn’t know what to say…I just walked into the ER and told the Dr what happened. I washed my wrist and there were two tiny prick marks. They took her back to draw labs and I had mine drawn as well. Problem was that she claimed the syringe wasn’t hers. That it was “clean” and that it belonged to a friend. Now I’m taking Combivirin as a prophylactic measure. She tested + for Hep C but it’s being treated as an “unknown” source because it’s not sure who the syringe belonged to, etc. My wife and I spent two agonizing days trying to make sense of this, wondering and worrying about what will happen. I swore that the medication’s side effects were already being felt as I had no appetite, the thought of food made me nauseous, I couldn’t sleep at night, etc. After talking to a few doctor friends, I realized that it was more emotional than anything. They assured me that the risk of contracting anything are so remote that I needn’t worry too much about it (easy to say, they said, but true nonetheless). They made me realize that I was suffering more from a PTSD type of situation, particularly since I thought I was connecting with the patient, associated her with my daughters, and genuinely felt that I was making a difference in her life, just to feel betrayed and manipulated. I finally feel at peace with what happened, will have my lab drawn at the prescribed intervals, take my Combivir, and when my labs show that I’m clean and no longer at risk, I will thank my God and move on. I hope this will help anyone struggling with a similar traumatic incident. BTW, has anyone taken Combivir? If so, can you describe any reaction/side effects? Thanks.

    • What did your wife do/say in this situation? Did you guys make any changes at home the way you handle things? Utensils bathroom things? New rules or any extra precautions? Did you stop having sex?

      I am asking because my wife is a nurse and got pricked and the day before we were trying to get pregnant… Now I told her that we need to put the whole pregnancy thing on hold, and I am thinking that’s going to break her heart… Any advice ?

      • For your own safety and that of your partner and future babies…. you cannot be having unprotected sex with your partner until you get a negative result. The responsible thing is to use a condom. I wouldn’t be trying to have a baby while you are waiting for the bloods to come back negative. As for everything else, i wouldn’t have thought you needed to change anything else in your life. The infection control people at the hospital will be able to give advice.

        I got a needle stick injury yesterday because a doctor didn’t safe guard the suture needle before giving it back to me. The needle stuck in my finger as i was about to put it back into the safety dish. Unfortunately, even tho i gave the relevant details, the patient name etc, they still discharged the patient without taking bloods, so now i am to be treated as if its an unknown source. The upsetting thing for me is that we also are trying to start a family and that is now on hold for 6 months while we wait for a negative result. The infection control staff only advised that we need to have protected sex, for his protection.

        • Hi everyone. I am a nurse and in my 18 years of nursing career I had dirty needle pricks 2x. First was when I was a rookie and got stuck by a needle used in a cut-down where the surgeon just left the needle unprotected. I got tested and a medical resident advised me to eat hard candies. I don’t really know the rationale for these, I can only assume. Second, was 3 years ago, when I was pulling a dialysis needle from a patient who suddenly moved and I got stuck with the needle. I was pregnant at that time. You can imagine my worry. I had a tetanus shot and antibiotic for prophylacsis. I get annual screening and Thank God so far I am ok. I hope everything will be ok for everyone as well.

  24. Got my results back today and EVERYTHING turned out OK, Hep C is Negative… I will however get tested again in three months just to be on the safe side but I’m told not to worry as the mental anguish of thinking about this tears you apart… This site has been very helpful and I do hope that everyone else who has come to this site or does come to this site finds it helpful and I wish everyone the best of luck.. :)

    • Kellie, I’m so glad for you. What you said about the mental anguish is so true. I don’t remember ever having experienced anything like this (and I am a 22 year Army veteran with a combat tour under my belt). The anxiety, the disbelief, not just for me but for my wife as well. I do feel encouraged, though, after having spoken to some doctor friends. Just a matter of time. Like you, I will be posting my results here for everyone to see and get some confidence.
      I appreciate this site very much.

      • Oscar, Thankyou so much for commenting, they dr did recommend I come back in June and get another test done but I recently went to the hospital about my foot and they wanted to do a blood test to check for inflammation, they also asked me if they could do Hep C check and I said “Yes ofcourse’ but I still haven’t got my results from this second test back and im going through all the same insane anxiety’s i was before only because I wasn’t expecting a foot dr to ask about getting this test done… I find out next week and I too will post my results for all those who just need something to refer to when no one else gives advice some ppl are looking for.. I look forward to reading from you and I pray everything turns out 100% ok for you…. Thinking of you aswell as myself again…. pray the lord that all turns out to be fine… The mental anguish is just too hard to endure… I really need some good ppl in my life, not ppl who use and don’t say anything and leave their dirty filthy things behind for any innocent to accidently get pricked by… thanks for your reply :)

  25. REALLY NEED ADVICE! My mom let these distant relatives stay with us for a short period. One day she realized their things were gone and she found a trash bag and picked it up and got poked by a needle. Now she is doing everything she needs to be doing for something like this. The bag contained at least 15 needles. These people are full time staff at a local bowling alley. Is she able to press charges? They def have Hep c and refuse to go get tested for anything else. Im just sick knowing they fun a family business and are on drugs. The boss refuses to do anything as the incident did not happen there. She is mentally strained not knowing whether or not she may have caught something. All in all my question is seeing she knows who the people where can she do anything about it? Press charges?

    • Amanda, I’m glad to see that your mom is taking the precautions necessary for the needlestick. I pray that everything will turn out fine. About the other matter, when she informed her doctor about the needlestick, didn’t they ask where it was from? I would think that they would have to contact the local authorities to investigate. Unfortunately, from what I’ve read, if they’re not caught in the act of doing something illegal, there’s not much that can be done. Maybe she can call the ploice and leave an anonymous tip and let them follow up from there. My advice is to cut them out of your lives forever and move on. Best of luck.

  26. on a monday morning just finishing give a patient insuline as i was pulling of the needle it goes right out and stick my finger . there i was stress i started to cry and i am afarid to take the test hoping i could trun out positive.

  27. hi i need some advice… my daughter picked up a used needle that she found on the playground at her school. Long story, she tells me she was not poked by it but im still worried. should i inform her dr and have her tested for anything? i know the risk is low but we are very concerned. on of her friends WAS stuck with this needle.


  28. I am really concerned and so frightened Im having panic attacks for which I also suffer.. Is there anyone who is also a professional that can also help answer my above question… I did go get a blood test and will be going back on Monday to hand in my urines but I would so be so greatful if someone could also put my mind at rest.. I am single also so what would I tell future partners.. I don’t want to have to go without sex for six months just because of this risk of a pin prick to my little pinky finger from a dirty needlefrom a person who has told me they have beaten Hep C but it remains dormant in their system .. Please help me put my mind at some ease, I’m having panick attacks every few hours….Please Help…
    Very Very Scared

  29. Hi. I also got stuck with a dirty needle on Feb 8th. I was giving my patient a subcutaneous Lovenox shot. As I pulled the needle out of his abdomen, he moved and i felt the tip of the needle hit my thumb. It didnt bleed at first but I made it bleed, washed my hands, and reported it to my supervisor. The patient got tested and if HEP C POSITIVE. I am now in the process of waiting for 6 months to see what my Hepatitis status is. Alot of people have been telling me that since it was a subQ injection my chances are even lower than the 1.8%. This is still very nerve racking. I think about it everyday. From all the research i have read and from what my co workers have told me is that the chance of contracting HEP C is about 1.8%. Even with a percent that low it is very scary. I get my 4 week test done in about 2 weeks then in August is my 6 month check. I am keeping my fingers crossed that all comes out okay.

    Hope this helps you some. Remember, you are not alone in this. I am in the same situation and I feel your pain 100%

    • Dear Nicole, thanks so much for giving me the greatest advice I have rec’d so far, thankyou so much for giving me some warm words of comfort… I appreciate everything you have said and it does help me put my mind at ease, I wish I didn’t suffer panic disorder tho, it’s driving me crazy not knowing for sure but I so hope to get good advice.. I told my mum about it and she was not upset at me but more so concerned and told me not to worry but if the worst news happens, she will be there to help me cross that bridge when and if it comes to it.. Thanks so much Nicole xxx

    • Hi nicole, i am a doctor and doing my post graduation in psychiatry. Psychiatry and needles are things world apart but to my misery i am on rotation to Neurolgy unit where i pricked my finger durring doing venesection to a hep C patient. It feels terrible right now and i have lost all the motivation in life.I read your post and i just wanted to know, in case you come across my post, what is your current status.just, you know for instilling in some hope, it feels really horrible

  30. Hi…… Firstly I am so scared….

    I got pricked by a used needle from a person who said he had beaten Hep C…. I was sitting on the couch next to him and when I asked to get a drink from the fridge, I put my hands back on the couch and went to push myself out between two ppl as to not knock either of them, in doing so, I straight away felt my little pinky finger getting pricked by this needle that he had just used half an hour before, I screamed, blood came out and I rushed to the sink and squeezed out a little amount of blood under the water and kept rinsing it, I then used an alcohol swab to clean my little finger… What are my chances of contracting Hep C….

    Very Very Scared

    • Im so Scared… Please reply, I have to go to the dr’s anyway today and I don’t know what to tell her, I have eaten after my needle prick during the night so I won’t be able to get a blood test done, do I tell my family doctor or do I just go somewhere else?

      • I had a needle stick a few years ago and never had to fast for any blood tests so that shouldn’t be an issue…
        hope it all goes ok for you.

        • Thanks Cassie, may I ask how did you go with your blood tests, I don’t mean to pry and you do not have to tell me, I’m just freaking out everyday, I also had a urine test with the blood test and that is why I thought I had to fast for both but I hadn’t eatn for days and the night before I just couldn’t help myself but have a little something to eat… I hope that my eating didn’t stuff up the urine tests, I am still awaiting the results of both tests, so paranoid due to my anxiety but I told my mum about this and she is behind me all the way and loves me no less!!!! Thanks for your reply to me, it means alot to me so thankyou soooo very much!!! :)

  31. i go to school for medical assistant i recently voluntard for one of the students to draw my blood while preparing to draw my blood i thought she stuck her self but didnt say any thing she continued to use the needle on me then when she was done she saw blood on her finger on the gloves then she says o i must have stuck my self so im like you did she goes i think so but dont worry about i dont think it was from u …. is it possible to get hiv from her if she is infected

  32. it’s only just touch my skin, and i saw a tiny dot of my skin, no bleeding happend..
    Do i need to go to doctoe regardin to this matter?

  33. hi im workin in hospital. Last time i prick my finger with a used cannula for the patient, then when i removed my gloves i looked at my finger and squeezed it theres no blood come out. If theres no blood it means that i will not be infected? Im worry now…

  34. Im actually a waitress and I was cleaning the bathroom at work when I grabbed the trash and intently got stuck with a needle I freaked and washed it immediately squeezed to get blood out put about every sanitizer we owned anit bacterial soap bleach windex hand sanitizer .. should I still go get tested

    • Oh my god, yes you definitely should get tested and the sooner the better. You never know what was in that needle.

    • You should be tested. Any one who has a needle stick injury should be tested. I am not hure what country you live in, but here in the US if you are injured on the job, you are supposed to have cerain rights and the Labor & industry laws should protect workers. Making a claim requires that workers report any injury to supervisor, make out an incident report and include descriptive information about the injury and how it happened. This is true for any palce of employment not just health care settings.

      Other regulatory agencies also see to the safety of work settings. Health care workers should be availed of all needed personal protective apparel and gear: glvoes, masks, gowns, eye wear as well as equipment with safety gueards such as self retracting needles or needles that have no-touch cap guards to prevent needle stick injury. All health care workers are required to have hep B vaccinations and are also availed of prophylactic anti viral therapy for HIV post needle stick or significant blood exposure.
      Annual training about blood borne pathogens should be mandatory for all workers in health care settings and all workers should be versed in the agencies blood borne pathogens policy.

    • If you were stuck from a discarded needle in the trash, then this is called a “community needle stick injury” (as opposed to a health care injury). You could get tested but more importantly to put your mind at rest, someone should give you accurate information. This type of injry is incredibly low risk. There have been a couple of cases of someone getting hepatitis C from this type of injury, a probable case of hepatitis B transmission to a child, and no case of HIV transmission. These figures include all cases reproted in the literature, for all countries for as long as there has been testing for these diseases.

  35. Hi..m a nurse.ystrdy i got a needle prick injury from a patient.i gt his screening done and it came hiv positive i have started taking treatment but m vry much scared

    • I hope you get counseling and care and compassion from everyone around you. Please read some information about needle stick injury; the risk of transmission is still not terribly high
      .I feel for you; this has to be very harrowing and stressful for you. If you have a spiritual practice, lean on that, too. Try not to dwellon the remote possible negative outcomes. Thank goodness the prophylactic treatment for HIV is very effective, and that you have access to that. Take care, and I sincerely hope you have a long and healthy life.

  36. Simple… if you’ve had a needle stick, gets bloods taken ASAP because you never know though I’ve been told the risk of acquiring a disease is quite low. Why do people not report? It seems like a baffling to me…

    • It is not simple. There are all sorts of implications of getting tested for HIV and HCV. It is always important to wait until there is someone available to give good pre-test counselling. The first test is a baseline and there won’t be any change from this exposure for a few weeks, so the test can wait.

      What is important to do immediately is get your risk assessed and get prophylaxis if it is a significant risk (for HIV or hepatitis B or tetanus). This is so important and spending time getting yourself or the patient tested wastes time when the prophylaxis drugs could be working to stop you getting infected

      • Of course it is important to get your risk assessed and to have counselling if needed etc. But I’m an ED nurse and to me it is simple. Get a blood test done straight away. Tell whoever is in charge. Get things moving. I don’t know, but that is what I think when someone in our department gets a needle stick.

  37. hi. I am operation theater nurse, I had a needle prick during bowel surgery cases.I still worried even thought pre-operative screening done on that particular patients (MALE , 60 YEARS OLD) shows all negative.I still not reported, as I am planning to do my medical check up personally .I am just scared is there any chances of tuberculosis transmission through blood , coz that biopsy done on that patients for detecting cancer colon and extra.

  38. hi, this morning, i injured myself with a needle used to give insulin. i was pricked in my thumb about an hour after i used it to inject the insulin. the insulin was administered on the patient’s thigh. patient health history is not known. i wnt to a/e and blood was taken from me. then i was given a hep vac booster. i am very afraid of contracting some dreaded diseases. can anyway provide me reassurance?

    • Tatay why on earth was that needle still not put in a sharps container one hour after it’s use?
      I hope you are ok but that is very poor sharps handling!!

  39. Hi I’m a phlobotomist and yesterday after my morning draws I noticed I had what looked like a needle prick on my thumb. strange that I never felt a needle stick, I’m so worried. Could it be possible to get a stick without feeling it? May I mention it was a super busy morning.

  40. I am an Reg nurse l pricked myself with a cannulae used on a preterm baby.the parents hiv status are not known..l never reported

    • Why not report and get tested ? if you feel its too late to report now test urself for Hepb, Hep C and HIV at your doctor’s.

  41. I am an Employee Health nurse and I am appalled at the lack of care that you have been given for your needlesticks! Here we evaluate the source for possible risk behavior and draw HIV, Hep B and C labwork from them to determine if our employees have been exposed. We also counsel the employee at the time of the injury and draw blood from them to PROVE that they are negative at the time of the exposure. This way, if the source is positive, we have proof that the employee was negative and we will do repeat testing at 6 weeks, 3 months and 6 months after the injury to test for disease. If the employee becomes positive we will know it is from that exposure. If the source is positive for risk factors, we will offer the employee HIV prophylaxis. Any of our employees in a patient care area is offerred Hep B vaccines if they have not had them at the start of their jobs. You are owed this care when you suffer a needlestick on the job! Push for the correct care!!! Thankfully the risk is low for most needlesticks, but DO NOT take chances with your life!

    • I was recently stuck by a lancet from 1 of 2 patients that I had just done a finger stick on. I was sent to the ER, had base lab work done and given a tetanus shot. One of these two patients is positive for Hep C and has refused to be tested for HIV. The other patient doesn’t have any lab work stating she has Hep B, C or HIV. I have had to push my risk manager to get lab work drawn on these two patients. My DON/infection control nurse has not even spoken to me about it, as if it never happened. One of the patients agreed to HIV testing which came back negative, thank goodness! And I had to draw his blood myself!!! Just found out the other patient also has Hep C. The hospital I work for acts totally unconcerned about this and I was very upset because I got stuck and their total lack of concern!! Plus the fact that both patients tested positive for Hep C!!! I wish we had an employee nurse like you!! I will continue to get my lab work done for a year!!


  43. hello, i am a dental nurse, im worried, one week ago i priked my self with a hand scaler and it bleed, itold my boss and she sent me for a blood test the very next day, im am still currently waiting to her back,
    but now i am even more worried, today while cleaning up after an RCT i tried to clean up to fast and struck myself with a need that had been used to rinse out a patients conal, it did go in the mouth but it didnt have any blood on it, i am worried because i didnt report this one, i felt like they throught i was clumpsy, i am worried now, because i dont want to catch anything ???
    i am going for another blood test in 6 months but should i get one done before then, im to scared to tell my family and even my work place,i dont think i could have caught anything, when i looked at he pts history they only had blood pressure, a dry salvia diease and sclederma??? im worried,,, please help me

  44. hi i am a dentist !
    yesterday i poked myself with the needle while giving local anesthesia to the patient.i immediately removed my gloves miked the blood out cleaned the site with alcohol and took all sorts of patient history and now i am paranoid!will get lab inv done.

  45. So I work as a community living trainer with intellectually disabled. I was taking a man’s blood sugar and I think I may have stuck myself with the needle. The thing is that i have a cut on one of my fingers and I did not feel a stick there at all. I thought I stuck my thumb. So I’m not exactly sure what happened. I washed my hands as soon as I was done and used hand sanitizer. This man has Parkinson’s disease also. I have had my Hepatitis B shot a while back, but I am still freaking out because I do not know much besides you should be very careful with needles and not stick yourself. Is there anything I should be worried about or should I be worried at all??

  46. I work in Sterile Processing and was poked by a dirty instrument that was delivered to decontam.
    Everyone tells me that the chance of getting anything is slim one Doc told me he would eat 8 of his best hats if I got anything… This did not make me feel better. This was over 2 yrs ago and all turned out well,but everytime I am over there I feel panic the whole shift.
    I know that insturments that arrive to us do not do so in a timely manner and survival rate is so low as time passes but I still think it is so GROSS!
    I am curious as to how many people actually get anything after exposure in the workplace.
    This site has been very educational and has made me feel alittle better about the experience.

  47. Hi all, I’m a Registered Nurse, work in an ER. Was recently putting an IV into a patient, went to dispose of the needle into the sharps box (which was located on the side of one our IV carts that practically goes into every room in the ER) when my finger slipped and I pricked it on a blood culture vacutainer. At first I didn’t even think it cut me. I took off my glove, looked at my finger, squeezed it and then blood came out. I freaked out because I don’t know who the source is!! It could be anyone of the 140-something patients seen that day. Anyways, I started the medications because I’m just too nervous. A friend of mine was able to retrieve the dirty vacutainer from the sharps box and the lab was able to run a rapid HIV test only after diluting the dried blood with NSS. Thankfully, the test came back negative, but I was wondering is anyone knows if that is accurate? still a little worried =(

  48. Hi , I’m a care worker , I had been to a client home who is a drug user , I was pricked in the finger by a used needle which wasn’t his so we don’t know anything about the person who used it , Ive not had any vaccinations for hep b , I went straight to my doctors and they have taken some blood and they gave me the start of a course of hep b vaccinations , I’m really upset about what’s happened .. How long does it take to know if Im ok or not ? And is there anything else( treatment) I should be getting ?, I’m sure the doctor will do everything they need to do. I’m so worried ! Sharon

    • Hi Sharon,

      You should have your blood tested again 6months after the needlestick injury (so this month).
      Any virus will have taken its course by then and you will know if you have contracted any virus from the needle (IE. HIV/HBV/HCV).

      Hope this helps and Good luck,


  49. Hi Everyone! My name is Ana I’m a student nurse currently working at an ER. About a month ago I poked myself with an IV cannula that came out of the arm of an HCV+ patient. I told the nurse I was paired with about it and she reassured me that it wasn’t possible to poke myself wit the cannula (the plastic device that’s left inside the pt’s vein). I keep obsessing about it, I’m planning to go to the doctor tomm… Do you think the nurse was right? It is plastic and bendy after all… So scared

    • Ana anything is possible but your chances are very low. i was stuck by a needle 3 weeks ago by a pos hep c patient and yes i freaked out had labs done and will repeat again in 6 mo. good luck and try not to worry.

      • Thank You Shannon, everyone seems to think that the chances of having poked myself with a plastic cannula are very low. Im trying to stay logical. I am glad everything is going well for you.

        • i was a patient at a prestigious boston hospital and was stuck by a doctor who tested positive for hiv–i was not notified of the stick for 5 days and then put on medication which i know was supposed to be done within 24 hrs–i went through 1 yr of hell until i knew the time limit for contamination was over–during that time i contacted shingles(caused by stress)–has anyone ever had this happen? Drs. seem to dismiss this coincidence–please let me know–

    • hi iam a porter and i had to pair of gloves on . One pair of cheap brown ones, and the other over the brown was junk yard dog gloves. I was cleaning the compactor machine, and was prick i started to bleed about 5min afters but just a lilttle. I squeeze a lil and wash my hands. a lil paronoid now this happen to me17 years ago same way cleaning the machine i was testesd twice and was negative. i did not go to the doctor this time, but its ben on my mind since yesterday what are my chances of geting sick ? thank you

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