Needle Stick Mindfulness & Infectious Agent Exposure

Category: Injury/Illness


A Postdoctoral Scholar was handling the blood of infectious agent exposed mice outside of a biosafety cabinet. While trying to expel blood from the syringe into an Eppendorf tube the blood apparently dried in the needle tip.  When the researcher exerted additional pressure to expel the blood. The needle disconnected and the tip of the needle contacted left pinky finger. The researcher was not aware of the needle breaking the surface of the glove or the skin of finger beneath and continued working until he had collected blood from the each of the

remaining specimens. He wore the same pair of gloves for the duration of the procedure.

Upon completion of the procedure, he removed gloves and washed his hands. He did not recall observing blood or a break in the skin after removing gloves or while washing hands. Ten days later he developed a fever and body aches. He contacted University Health Services (UHS) but neglected to mention his work with infectious agents. He also informed the PI but did not recall the potential needlestick until later. After testing negative for COVID-19 on multiple occasions and delaying other treatment he eventually received a blood test for the infectious agent. He tested positive and began the appropriate course of treatment. After developing Bell’s palsy the researcher eventually recovered and returned to work.


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