[Question #3624] Nurse did bad blood drawn, potential exposure?

34 months ago

My wife and I went for our annual blood work, before we entered the nurse had already prepared the needle to the vacutainer holder, we kindly asked her to change it so we can see it was new, I saw that the vacutainer holder had blood spills on it (looked like dried) so when changing the needle the nurse touched those spills with her bare hand, then proceed to touch my wife’s arm puncture site to recheck for the vein (without cleaning the area) and proceed to draw! so we don’t know if whatever she touched could be transferred to my wife’s skin and then pushed trough the needle to direct blood flow.


That same day I overheard a nurse saying they had to discard a donor because of hiv! What if it was that person’s blood spills that the nurse touched? We didn’t see anyone entering before my wife, but we don’t know from earlier that morning.

The room in there was very cold with air conditioning on and I don’t know if this can preserve more the viruses.


My wife never developed symptoms but a month later I saw that a wart she had on her toe started to grow a lot (she said she scratched it), its still there; and after 2 months she had a bad UTI for the first time in her life after we had sex, and it was not responding to treatment (3 rounds of the same antibiotic) it finally cleared with natural remedies; I also noticed she is bruising easily now.


I need your expert guidance to know that my wife was not put at risk and that we can resume to have unprotected sex to have a new baby!

H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
34 months ago
Welcome to the forum. Thanks for your question.

Nobody in the world is known to have acquired HIV because of how blood was drawn. There might have been exceptions 20+ years ago, before single-use disposable needles and systems were routinely used, but not today. The important thing here is not dried blood on the Vacutainer holder or whether an HIV infected person had had blood drawn recently, but whether or not a new, unused needle was used. So from what you describe, there is no reason to be concerned about having acquired HIV or any other blood borne infection. Whether or not HIV or other viruses could survive in the room makes no difference, and air conditioning has no effect on that either.

As for your wife's UTI, possible wart, and possible easy bruising, none of these infections suggests HIV infection or any sort of immune deficiency. There is nothing in any of this that suggests you and your wife cannot continue to have unprotected sex without worry. You should not have stopped doing so and certainly can resume sex now.

If you remain concerned, of course you are free to be HIV tested if the negative results will further reassure you about all this. But I don't recommend it on medical grounds, only perhaps for reassurance; and certainly I wouldn't do it if somehow I were in your situation.

I hope this information is helpful. Best wishes to you and your wife and good luck for prompt conception!

HHH, MD
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34 months ago
Thank you for your answer Dr. Handsfield! I am so happy to know that there was no risk involved and that I can resume with my family plans.

My wife always believed she was not put at risk at all and I recently asked her again about her wart and she said it already happened twice in the past (before the incident), so now I understand that I was just overlooking for things that wouldn’t have mattered to me before.

Also we just got reassurance from my wife’s gynaecologist that the UTI and wart are totally normal on healthy people. He also told us that there was absolutely no risk involved from this blood drawn procedure and that no testing is needed.

So just to close this topic forever in my mind, there is no difference if the blood spills on the vacutainer tube were dried or not, or if viruses existed on them? there was no risk from the nurse touching those spills and then my wife’s puncture site on the skin before drawn, correct?
So there are no scenarios in here that could put my wife in risk but having used a needle from a previous infected patient right?

That never happened, I am 100% sure the needle was completely new.
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
34 months ago
You are doing your best to invent scenarios that might create risk. Some of the things you mention might create a small risk of catching HIV, if a recent previous patient were infected. But since you're "100% sure the needle was completely new", why do you even ask? We don't get involved in anxiety driven "what if" speculation. 

But thanks for the thanks. I'm glad to have helped.

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34 months ago
Hello Dr; I am sorry if I sent the wrong impression with my previous reply, It was never my intention to create “what ifs..” I was really just looking forward for a closure reassuring answer from your side that no risk was involved and that we were totally safe to restart our sex life to have a new baby as I was confirming that the needle was new. 

But now I am confused when you say “small risk of catching HIV, if a recent previous patient were infected”; is that based ONLY assuming a reused needle? The needle was completely new, but the nurse did touch the blood spills on the tube holder (looked dried and were only a few) and then she touched my wife’s punture site and then proceed to draw; I didn’t see any blood on my wife’s arm (its not like the nurse touched a lot of fresh blood and put it directly to my wife’s arm before drawn), but I am confused, what is the “small risk” in here? Can you please reconfirm that we are safe?

I already resumed unprotected sex with my wife and we are following your advice and won’t go for testing.

So I am kindly asking again if the ONLY small risk in here is the reused needle one? Or if we were put at “small risk” from the nurse touching those blood spills? Can we continue unprotected sex completely confident and safe? We don’t want to put our future sun/daughter at any risk!

We were alredy very happy from your original answer!
My wife and I will follow your expert advise without any further questions as we totally trust you, we will put this incident behind us completely! so please confirm to us again that no risk happened in here as the needle was new!

Perhaps we are not understanding properly your final reply when you say “why do you even ask?”.
Thanks a lot doctor!
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
34 months ago
I don't see how I can state it more clearly than I did above. In the somewhat contorted scenario you describe, there could be some miniscule risk of HIV transmission. But those events almost certainly didn't occur. Life is full of uncertainty. I cannot guarantee you couldn't get HIV from such an event, just as I cannot guarantee you won't be killed tomorrow by a meteorrite. I would not recommend you take precautions against either one, or that you get tested for HIV. Don't you find my initial comments at all reassuring, that nobody has ever been known to have caught HIV from having blood drawn? Why is this even on your mind?

Another factoid that may be pertinent:  According to the National Safety Council, the average American has 1 chance in 1,756 of accidental death in the next 12 months (vehicular accidents, falls, drowning, etc, etc). In that context, why worry about something with risk in the range of 1 in many millions or billions?

That completes the 3 replies offered for each question and so ends this thread. I hope the discussion has been helpful.

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34 months ago
Thank you doctor, I was summarizing my previous reply when you answered! We agree with you that the chances are minuscle as you stated 1 in millions of billions and that we should not be worried about that.

We will continue our lives normally and will completely put this minuscle non-realistic scenario behind us as it is not relevant at all and won’t take over us.

Thank you doctor for helping us and we wish you all the best!
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
34 months ago
Thanks for the thanks. I'm glad to have helped.---