A Bloody Mess

Q: I’m a nursing student and when I was drawing blood on a patient yesterday, the tubing became disconnected and some blood splashed onto my arm above my gloves.  I washed it off right away.  Is there anything else I need to do?

A: Students exposed to another person’s blood run the risk of getting a blood borne pathogen (a virus or other agent that lives in blood).  Blood borne pathogens (BBP) include HIV and hepatitis viruses.  This is a common concern for health professional students, but can impact anyone.  If you have an exposure to blood on your intact skin, the risk of disease transmission is extremely low.  Immediate washing of the skin with soap and water should protect you.  If the skin is broken (cuts, abrasions, rash) or if the blood gets to a mucous membrane (mouth, eye, etc.), then you should see a healthcare provider for advice after cleaning your skin.  For more information, refer to the blood borne pathogen exposure document.