[Question #4259] Fresh Blood Exposure

29 months ago
A couple of years ago I was in the Optometry waiting room/front desk area of my local hospital. My father and I arrived an hour early for his doctor's appointment, so we sat waiting. A couple of chair rows in front of me was an old couple. I paid no attention to them, and had my focus on my cell phone. At some point, the couple got up and left. From the corner of my eye, I noticed the lady from the front desk almost immediately  get up with gloves and a cleaning spray bottle, then cleaned some sort of mess off of the floor. Since my focus was still on my phone, I didn't pay any attention. 
Minutes passed (can't remember how many), and I went outside to call my fiance. As I was talking to her, I happened to look down and saw drops of fresh wet splattered blood right beneath me. It was a trail of blood coming from the entrance of the optometry waiting room area, all the way to the corner of the building. I'm not certain if I stepped on any of it, but it's highly likely I did. 
Putting two and two together, it seemed that mess the lady from the front desk was cleaning was blood from that old couple. Either she didn't bother to clean the drops outside, or just didn't notice it. And it is unknown to me why the couple was trailing blood.
I went back inside and sat back in my chair and tried to relax. A while passes and the doctor finally calls in my father. After seeing the doctor, he tells us to sit back out in the waiting area. By that point, more people had shown up. There were only two seats available, and they just happened to be the ones the old couple were previously  sitting on. I didn't realize it until after we sat down. On the back cushion of one of the seats, I recall seeing a dry smeared stain of blood, but I don't remember if it was the seat I was sitting on or my father's. I don't recall if I looked for anymore blood on the chair arm rests or any other part.
After the appointment, we went to the pharmacy section of the hospital and waited about an hour to get his meds. Then we drove home, but I made a quick stop to get gas. The gas tank lever is on the floor, so I was worried about touching it since I might have stepped on blood earlier. I think I went inside the station and grabbed some napkins, and used that to touch the lever. I could be wrong and probably just used bare hands. I don't recall if I had any type of cuts on my hands or arms, or if at any point I rubbed my face or eyes. As for my clothing, I think I was wearing a hooded zip up jacket, jogging pants, and regular running shoes. But thats just a guess, so I'm not sure if my arms were exposed. I don't know if any blood happened to get on my hands, but I'm guessing that a no. I don't believe I washed my hands at all while at the hospital though.
Would I, or my father, be at risk of contracting anything like HIV or Hepatitis from this situation? I know I'm years late on asking this question, but it just recently came to mind. 

Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
29 months ago
Welcome to our Forum.  I'll be glad to comment and hope that you will find my comments reassuring.  I would say that as disconcerting as this event was (after all, who wants to get someone else's blood on them) i did not put you at any risk for HIV or hepatitis.  Statistically, it is unlikely that older persons would have HIV or hepatitis.  Even if they did, HIV and hepatitis are transmitted only through direct penetrative sexual contact or injection of infected material directly and deep into tissue.  Touching, even if there was a cut or abrasion present or stepping on blood (even barefooted) would not be a risk factor.  From what you tell me, there is nothing to worry about and no medical reason to seek testing related to the unfortunate event that you describe. 

I hope this information is helpful.  If there are further questions, please feel free to use your up to two follow-up questions for clarification.  EWH
---
29 months ago
Thank you so much for your response. This was an issue/event that I had not thought about in a couple years, and was also the second time I had ever encountered someone else's blood in public. I figured HIV might not be a risk due to time and air exposure, but I wasn't sure about any form of hepatitis (A, B, or C, etc.). I've heard/read different things about hepatitis either living outside the body from a number of hours to three weeks. That somewhat had me confused, especially when dealing with someone else's blood that I may have brought back with me into my car and home.  And back then I didn't keep up with keeping my stuff clean. Shame on me, I know.
But another question directly related to the topic -- My first exposure to someone else's blood. About a month prior to the unfortunate event I previously described, I took my father to the ER (same hospital). We were in the patient area waiting for the doctor/nurse to attend my father. I was standing up pacing the inside of our curtained offed section, my fiance was sitting down on a chair, and my father laid on the hospital bed. I noticed a dry spot of blood on the floor, in between my fiance and I. Any of us may have stepped on it, especially me since I was pacing that section. I brought this to the nurses attention when he arrived, but he just gave me a blank expression and did nothing about it.
When the doctor finally arrived to attend my father, my fiance and I left the ER and ate at the Subway restaurant inside the hospital.  Then she and I walked the outside grounds of the hospital, for a couple of hours, until my father called to be picked up from ER. We drove out of the hospital, stopped to pick up pizza for my father, brought him back to my house with us so he could eat, dropped him off at his house because it was getting late, then my fiance and I went back home. It was probably around 7PM or 8PM by the time this event ended. I think we spent a total of four hours at the hospital.
The next morning, at 10 AM, I went downstairs to make breakfast. When I reached the bottom floor, I immediately stepped on a thorn "sticker"(also known as Thumbtack-like Tribulus terrestris). It penetrated the bottom of my foot and I pulled it out. Blood started to leak out of the penetrated area, so I went upstairs and rinsed my foot with water in the bathtub. I don't recall if I used soap or not. I also don't remember how I dealt with my foot afterwards. Either I put on socks, continued to walk around the house barefooted, or placed a band-aid on the injury. All I know is I got rid of the thorn and continued on my day.
As you may know, those thorn "sticker's" get stuck underneath shoes, then tend to fall off when you get indoors. So naturally, my worry was that it was stuck under one of our shoes's during our trip to the hospital, and then encountered the dry blood on the floor. We do not have the plants that create those thorns around my house, but my father's backyard has a ton of them on the floor. So either he brought that in after the hospital visit,  or my fiance and I picked it up while we were walking the outside grounds of the hospital (I'm not sure if the hospital has those plants in the area). The bottom of my stairs is right next to the front door of my house, so the location of the thorn on the floor indicates this was brought in when we came home.
I know for hepatitis (A,B,or C, etc.), or even HIV, you need direct contact to get infected. But since my foot got penetrated by a thorn(that may have been under one of our shoes during the hospital visit), and my foot bled, I was wondering if this may or may not be a risk. 
These two events were my only encounters with someone else's blood.  My first event would not have bothered me, if it weren't for the thorn penetrating my foot. 
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
29 months ago
Thanks for the additional information and the description of the 2nd exposure.  My assessment has not changed.  Both were still no risk events.  The combination of time and exposure to the environment both make your risk for HIV and hepatitis non-existent.  I would not worry in the least   Although there is no medical/scientific reason for testing, if you are spending a lot of time worrying about these events however, you might wish to ask your doctor to do blood tests.  if you do, I am confident the tests will be negative and prove to you that there is no need for concern.  EWH
---
29 months ago
Thank you for your reassuring response. I trust your judgement, so I will continue to withhold from any testing.
Just for clarification, when I stepped on that thorn "sticker", I did so with bare feet (no socks or shoes). That's how the thorn managed to get deep enough into my foot to cause bleeding.  Does this change anything in the situation being a no-risk event for HIV and Hepatitis? I assume it does not.
Again, I thank you for your kind responses. You have helped clear away any worry I might have had, and also educated me on the subject. 
 
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
29 months ago
Actually, before I provided my earlier response, I re-read your description and was aware that you were bare-footed.  This does not change my assessment or opinion. Still NO risk. 

As you may know this is my 3rd response to your questions.  As a result, as per Forum guidelines, this thread will be closed later today.  Take care.  Please do not worry.  EWH
---