[Question #5658] HIV Risk at Hospital?

22 months ago
Dear Doctor,

I recently traveled to LA and had to visit the ER at a hospital downtown due to food poisoning. The hospital didn’t seem very well managed and a lot of the patients there had issues with drug usage.

I was given an IV in the hallway. My question is: if the nurse didn’t change/wear gloves when she was connecting the IV bag and touched the connection part with blood from another patient/her own blood on her hand, would I be at risk of being infected with HIV? Do I need testing?

Thank you in advance for your kind help!

Jack 
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
22 months ago
Welcome back to our Forum. I'll be happy to comment on the events you describe.  Despite the chaotic situation which is often present in many urban emergency rooms, patients do not get infected with HIV as the result of poor precautions and safety matters.  Your question appears to be hypothetical- wondering IF the nurse who put your IV in was not wearing gloves and whether or not her hands were contaminated.  Both are very unlikely- first of all, health care providers wear gloves to protect themselves, not the patients.  Second, hospital precautions and strictly enforced rules mean the hospital personnel regularly apply hand sanitizer which would kill bacterial and viruses and prevent transmission of infection, including HIV from person to person.  Having said that, even if your nurses hand had blood from a person with HIV or it, starting and connecting your IV would not put you at risk for infection.  This really is not a situation I would worry about.

I hope your food poisoning has improved.  EWH
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