Case Studies

The following case reports briefly describe the experiences of three health care workers who developed serious infections after occupational exposures to bloodborne pathogens. Their cases illustrate preventable hazardous conditions and practices that can lead to needlestick injuries.

Case 1

A physician was drawing blood from a patient in an examination room of an HIV clinic. Because the room had no sharps disposal container, she recapped the needle using the one-handed technique. While the physician was sorting waste materials from lab materials, the cap fell off the phlebotomy needle, which subsequently penetrated her right index finger. Approximately 2 weeks after the needlestick, the physician developed flu-like symptoms consistent with HIV infection. She was found to be seropositive for HIV when tested 3 months after the needlestick exposure.

Source: NIOSH Publication No. 2000-108

Case 2

A physician was drawing blood from a patient in an examination room of an HIV clinic. Because the room had no sharps disposal container, she recapped the needle using the one-handed technique. While the physician was sorting waste materials from lab materials, the cap fell off the phlebotomy needle, which subsequently penetrated her right index finger. Approximately 2 weeks after the needlestick, the physician developed flu-like symptoms consistent with HIV infection. She was found to be seropositive for HIV when tested 3 months after the needlestick exposure.

Source: NIOSH Publication No. 2000-108

Case 3

A nurse sustained a needlestick injury to her finger while removing a hypodermic needle from a patient’s arm. At the time of the injury, the source patient had apparent acute non-A, non-B hepatitis. The nurse developed hepatitis 6 weeks after the needlestick injury. Her liver enzymes remained elevated for nearly a year. Later examination of serum samples from the nurse and the source patient showed that both persons were infected with HCV.

Source: NIOSH Publication No. 2000-108