Needlesticks- share your painful stories

  1. We all fear needlesticks. I started this thread so that we can share painful stories associated with needlesticks.
    I came into a room where an IV was dangling over the headboard of the bed and was stuck by the needle. The patient refused to be tested for HIV. I was scared, really scared. My husband and I were planning on having our third child, we wanted our last child to be a year younger than our middle child. I was too afraid to think about getting pregnant. And so, the sleepless nights followed, and the testing every few months. After a year of testing, and a confirmed negative for HIV infection- I was still too scared to get pregnant. And unfortuneatly, was afraid to be intimate with my spouse, even with a condom. Anyway- my third and last child is 3 1/2 years younger than his sister. Even though it has been several years- I still wonder if there is a chance I may have contracted something that may surface even later. It took a long time to overcome my fear of needles & I am so thankful to the companies who manufacture the needleless systems and locking syringes.
  2. 30 Comments

  3. by   hypnotic_nurse
    I was stuck on the psych ward, and it truly couldn't have been a worse scenario; the pt was IV drug user, bisexual, and promiscuous. Luckily he was also a nice guy and agreed to be tested for HepC and HIV; negative on both for both of us. I still had to take the AIDS drug regimen for 3 weeks as required by my facility (gave me lots of sympathy for the folks who take them long term -- they made me terribly sick). Retested 6 months later, still negative on both.

    It didn't make me fearful; I'd had to be tested for all STDs several years prior to that after finding out my husband (now an ex) had been seeing prostitutes for years...also negatives, thank goodness...but I am a LOT more careful now. (of needlesticks AND men!)
  4. by   traumaRUs
    In Illinois - we (healthcare providers) don't need a pts okay to test for HIV and hepatitis. It is our right to do so. If the pt has blood in the lab - we just do it. If we need to draw blood - we inform the pt and draw the blood. No consent needed. Its a shame that someone has to be so afraid (the nurse who was stuck and the pt that refused testing).
  5. by   IamRN
    As a patient, an RN stuck herself w/the mediport access needle. I had to sign permits for testing. Everything was OK.

    I have had several co-workers stick themselves when inserting needles to the sharps box. People before them didn't bother to check if sharps had fallen into container. The bad thing is that there is no way to know who the patient was that "belonged" to that needle :angryfire
  6. by   nekhismom
    Quote from IamRN
    As a patient, an RN stuck herself w/the mediport access needle. I had to sign permits for testing. Everything was OK.

    I have had several co-workers stick themselves when inserting needles to the sharps box. People before them didn't bother to check if sharps had fallen into container. The bad thing is that there is no way to know who the patient was that "belonged" to that needle :angryfire
    I see this alot in my unit, where people don't bother to push the flap when they deposit a sharp into the box. :angryfire I always try to eyeball the container before I drop something in, but you never know when something might be lurking and you just don't see it.

    Maybe since i work neonatal, people don't think that the babes are that likely to be infected with diseases?? I dunno, just wondering.
  7. by   suzanne4
    Any facility where I ever worked stateside, no consent was needed to draw a patient's blood for a needle-stick profile. If an employee was stuck, sprayed with blood, whatever, blood from that patient was tested.
  8. by   aimeee
    My only stick was depositing an insulin syringe into the sharps box. I had drawn up my insulins and marked the syringe with tape. Some of the sticky side of the tape was exposed and when I flipped the lever after setting the syringe in, the tape stuck to the little door and somehow the syringe was spun around and stuck my finger! Fortunately it was from a little old lady with no risk factors.
  9. by   nurseygrrl
    Luckily, I have never been stuck and I pray I never will be. I now work on an HIV/AIDS unit so we have all been trained to be extremely careful when it comes to disposing of sharps. The nurse practitioner is very good about using injectables only as a last resort, so that also makes it less of a risk. With the new drug regimen, you're pretty safe, even if you get a needlestick from an HIV infected patient, from seroconversion. Here is a short article explaining the TX from the
    Needlestick Exposure: CDC Recommends Three-Drug Regimen
    Published: June 21, 1996

    On June 7 the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published revised guidelines for antiviral treatment to reduce the risk of HIV transmission due to occupational exposure, such as needlestick injury with HIV-positive blood in a hospital or laboratory. The new guidelines are provisional, as little data is available.

    Because the risk of transmission is low -- only about 3 HIV infections per one thousand percutaneous exposures to HIV-infected blood, and because the antiviral drugs can have side effects, treatment is not recommended in very low risk situations (such as exposure to urine or saliva from HIV-positive persons). When treatment is recommended, it should be started very rapidly, preferably within one to two hours of exposure. The treatment suggested is indinavir (Crixivan(R)) plus AZT plus 3TC for four weeks; however, this regimen should be changed in certain cases, such as with a patient likely to be intolerant to one of those drugs or who is taking incompatible medications.

    The previous recommendation for occupational exposure to HIV called for treatment with AZT. A case-control study found that this use of AZT alone was associated with a 79% reduced risk of seroconversion. There is no human data on the effectiveness of combination treatment in preventing infection due to occupational exposure to HIV (since it takes a long time to get such data, because cases of seroconversion are rare). But all that is known suggests that combination treatment will probably be more effective than AZT alone.

    The complete guidelines were published in the June 7 MMWR (MORTALITY AND MORBIDITY WEEKLY REPORT, of the CDC). According to this publication, updated information about prevention of infection due to occupational exposure to HIV will be available in early 1997 from the CDC's Internet home page (, and also by fax and telephone.
  10. by   Tweety
    So far so good. Had several clean needle sticks though. One went right to the bone and hurt all night and turned purple. Can't remember what I was doing but it was in the hand. Ouch.........
  11. by   walterrn
    I work in a jail, where a good percent of my clients are addicts. I had just finished drawing blood on a woman with a butterfly. I had the needle and extension tubing wrapped around in a ball in my hand and proceeded to put it into the sharps container on the wall. Well, noone had replaced that container after the mandatory 2/3 full and it was jam packed. When I tried to deposit my crap, the lid sprang back, the needle did a slow motion dance in the air (it looked like slow motion) and came down and popped me on the palm.

    Fortunately, she was a forger, not an addict. Still had to do the testing though. Now I'm like Mr Infection Control and personally replace those containers when I see them filling up.

    Walter the Nurse
  12. by   Gompers
    We did have a scare on my unit a few months ago - a baby was admitted whose mother was HIV+ and not on meds, so while they were starting the kiddo's IV and drawing the admission labs, everyone was extra extra careful. Got the IV, got the blood, threw away the needles. Phew, right?

    Then the nurse was cleaning up the garbage - wrappers, empty syringes, gauze, etc. - and suddenly screams that she got stuck. It took about a minute before we realized she had stuck herself by grabbing the rubber-coated vacu-tainer needle from the end of a butterfly. Since we never use vacu-tainers, we always pull it off and toss it aside. So no blood had been near it, and everything was fine. Still, the nurse almost passed out and had to go sit down for a few minutes before she could function again...
  13. by   obliviousRN
    I got stuck in the ER after a lac repair on a 14 y/o boy who was staying at the local boys home for juvenile offenders.

    My MD forgot that he had taken off the needle of the lido syringe w/ a gauze pad. He left it folded up in the gauze pad and didn't put it in the sharps w/ the rest of his needles.

    When I was cleaning up after him, I grabbed all the gauze pads in a fisted motion and sunk that needle right into my finger. Talk about freaking out!

    My second B/BF exposure was during a L&D. When the doc cut the cord, I just happened to be looking right at it and the blood sprayed right in my face.
    Luckily, she was low risk, but still freaked me out.

    The only thing that pissed me off about both of those was that my hospital didn't seem all that concerned and I had to do the follow up on the Mom to get her back in for testing. ARGH!
  14. by   Ethel
    At our hospital we have a needle stick protocol and it is updated on a regular basis. OUr patients sign what we call a safety form in which they give consent for you to take their blood if a staff member is injured or exposed to body fluids. We are also given anti retrovirals immediately after exposure to an HIV+ patient or if the source of the needle stick is unknown it is your choice to take or not. Personally I have taken anti retrovirals and it was hell on earth but worth every minute as many years later I am still negative.