“Adam, stop suturing. You’re bleeding.” A look of terror flushed over me as I removed the needle from the extraction socket. I recalled my patient’s mention of Hepatitis B and immediately panicked. Thoughts of possible co-infection with HIV or Hepatitis C set in. My first sharps injury, and there I stood, helpless and afraid, as I bled from a cut to my thumb.
We learn all about these types of occupational exposures in the classroom. But sometimes, when faced with a real-life situation requiring a rapid decision, it can be hard to know how best to react. While we work carefully to avoid these incidents, they can and will happen. It’s our duty to protect our patients and ourselves by quickly managing and accurately reporting these exposures as they occur.