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Blood tests and clinical protection/hygiene

Hi, everybody.

I am typing this post due to noticing that there seems to be a lot of clinical unprofessionalism that I have observed over the years in the healthcare sector, particularly with nurses doing invasive procedures such as blood tests which is what this post is all about.

I have gone for many blood tests due to various health related issues.

When I had these blood tests, I have noticed that on many occasions, in fact all, that the nurses performing these blood tests did not wash their hands, wear gloves or even cleanse the puncture site with an antiseptic wipe after palpating it with her bare fingers before inserting the needle. When questioned on not cleansing the area after palpating it with her bare fingers before needle insertion she just said "We don't need to do that." Why, I don't know. She never gave any reason as to why she didn't need to cleanse the area after messing with it. Basically she contaminated the area before puncture, risking a patient's life.

I seriously feel like I am and have risked my life just for a blood test! I should have just walked out without giving a reason as her practice was just unacceptable. I wished I had have walked out now as I am really worried that she's infected me with some sort of blood-borne virus. I shouldn't have to feel like this. They (well at least I used to think) should know not to expose their patients or themselves to deadly blood borne viruses which they very well do know exist but are just not following the correct protocol.

Basically I see her practice as not being the slight bit bothered about her patients' or even her own safety. There were many patients who were, like me, unfortunate enough to have an appointment with her, oblivious as to her deadly practice, which I think is awfully sad in this day and age of so-called health and hygiene protocols that these so-called healthcare professionals are supposed to follow but most often don't.

She has probably infected and made ill or even led to their death any number of patients who she's dealt with and the thought of that is just very scary and sad. She has put many patients at risk for no need. All she had to do was to wash her hands, put some gloves on and cleanse the area. How hard can that actually be? She was just too lazy to be bothered with her patients' safety which is very ignorant indeed. I would not tolerate this sort of practice from any rank of nurse but especially not a Sister Practice Nurse which is what she was but failed to act like.

Blood borne viruses could easily be transferred from that nurse's hands into the patients' blood stream and that's it they're infected, putting these patients to premature death.

It's just absolutely not acceptable. These nurses are supposed to have done clinical practice...though it seems they learnt absolutely nothing as they practice like someone who just walked off the street and even someone who did walk off the street would know more on clinical hygiene and competence than these nurses seem to. Even I know all about what should be done and what shouldn't.

It's rediculous...why hospitals and GP surgerys employ these people is beyond me. It's no wonder there are a lot of complaints related to healthcare these days. As a patient you don't want to have to end up coming out with a 'new', more deadly problem. Healthcare should be all about helping the patient to get better, not killing them by infecting them with some blood borne disease! These people should be regularly checked for clinical competence at least yearly.

I personally can't trust these so-called healthcare professionals as they are obviously not up to the job at the best of times. I'd rather do these tests and procedures myself as I know what to do and am more genned up on correct practice.

My mom came in with me on that day and watched her do it. I asked her when I got back home what she thought of the way it was done and she said that it was fine and that I wouldn't catch anything from the way she practised but I don't believe this in the slightest, reason being, she said that it doesn't matter. Basically she always seems to think they know best which she can be mistaken. Gullible may be the word I'm looking for...

The questions I still have on my mind are:

1/ Is it possible that I could have caught a blood borne disease from when she touched the area with her bare hands and didn't cleanse it before inserting the needle?

2/ Is it really necessary for these nurses to wash their hands before the procedure?

3/ Do they have to wear gloves or is that only the really careful ones that do that?

4/ Finally, do they always cleanse the area before they insert the needle or is it not always necessary?

I would be very interested to hear your opinions on this as I'm sure that quite a few of you have had the unfortunacy to have experienced it too.

I appreciate any help or advice that you can give.

Thanks Smile

DS
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replied November 22nd, 2008
Community Volunteer
1) That I am uncertain.

2) Yes, their hands should be washed / disinfected.

3) I have seen it done both ways however I prefer the gloved ones.

4) Absolutely, they should ALWAYS clean the area with an alcohol wipe AFTER touching, let it dry before inserting the needle.

Touching of the area to find a good vein is to be done PRIOR to an alcohol wipe. Once vein is located, wipe, get needle (during that time alcohol is drying), insert, draw what is needed, remove needle, place cotton ball / gauze over injection site, apply pressure then a band-aid and you're done.

Have you discussed your concerns with the administrator?

~Zig
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replied November 23rd, 2008
Experienced User
Hi, zigemyster and thanks for your help and advice, it is much appreciated. Smile

I've asked my mom if this nurse should've cleaned the area after palpating the vein but she said it's ok that they don't do it and that I won't catch anything but I'm still concerned as she's never had any blood tests where they don't clean the area before inserting the needle. Is she right in saying that after palpating the area that they don't need to clean it before inserting the needle as I won't catch anything?

I'd certainly have expected a much better service and particularly with regards to protocol for hygiene as she was, believe it or not, a Sister. I've no idea what sort of rank that holds but I know it takes a lot to get to Sister level.

She has now put me at risk and I'm scared I've caught something and it's a ticking time bomb.

Is it possible I may be able to complain to my doctor who ordered it and ask him to send me to someone else to do any others next time and get a HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis test?

Do you mean the administrator here on this forum or at my doctors?

My mom told me not to bother about it as she thinks it doesn't matter and trusts that she didn't infect me with anything, though she's never experienced this so it's fair to say that she doesn't really know at all.

Thanks for your help and advice. Smile
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replied December 4th, 2008
Community Volunteer
Sorry so late getting back to you.

I don't believe you caught anything. Just next time ask that once they touch the area in which they will place the needle that you prefer that they not touch after that area is wiped with alcohol.

Administrator of the clinic / hospital / doctors office that you visited and mention your concerns and if you are told that their protocol is fine then ask the reason why until either you are satisified with their response.

This is what I do: I monitor the nurse from the time he / she puts on the gloves and what it comes in contact with, etc.... this way if he / she does touch the area after an alcohol wipe and prior to injection then that would be my time to speak...change gloves.

~Zig
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replied December 6th, 2008
Experienced User
Hi, zigemyster. Smile

That's ok. Smile

I will ask them to clean the area as well as not touching the site after cleansing with wipe. I don't understand the nurse though, as she needed to palpate the area a lot before inserting even though I've got good veins that are totally visible! She didn't really need to do that as I can see my veins without feeling them! She didn't clean the area anyway as she said she didn't need to do it apparently - perhaps it's a new thing?

Her procedure was;

Get stuff out, put tourniquet on, palpate area, insert needle. No cleansing as it isn't needed according to her.

Next time I think I'll just say I am not happy with her protocol and walk out and get someone else to do it and see if they do it any better. I don't really care if she gets funny about it as it's not her body, it's my body.

I think I am allowed to complain but I'll just have to see what the doctor says who ordered this test.

Thanks for your help and advice and I'll follow it next time as these nurses always seem to think they can just manipulate their patients.
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replied March 4th, 2009
Didn't clean the area before drawing blood
This just happened today with my little girl. Before I even knew what was going on the male nurse had the needle in her arm and I know he did not clean it. I asked him if he had and he said yes and that things were just going fast and I had missed it. But when I asked my 6 year old daughter she said he didn't. I complained to the lady at the front desk and she said not to worry about it. She acted completely unconcerned. I then spoke to my child's school nurse who told me they are trained to clean the area because bacteria can be dragged in by the needle and MRSA is one of those things. I am terrified right now that my baby has been given MRSA. I am currently waiting for a call from the Pediatrician's office but if she was infected no amount of phone calls will help her. I feel like crying but I can't let her see that mommy is worried. I could not live without that little girl and I have no clue if the MRSA getting into her blood stream could be cured. I pray to God nothing was dragged into her vein when he punctured her with a needle. I don't know how long until I know if she is actually okay. I am just going crazy with worry. Any answers for me out there? Thanks
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replied March 9th, 2009
Experienced User
Hi, Jules13

I am sorry to hear of the unprofessionalism that seems to be going around at the moment in doctors surgeries and hospitals.

I hope your little girl is ok. I have been told by my mom that apparently they don't need to clean the area as it's the person's own skin and they won't catch anything but I'm not too sure as twice I've had blood tests and never once had it cleaned, just stuck and that's it. I am still not happy about how dirty practice it is. It seems to be common now as my mom went for a jab and she didn't have the area cleaned beforehand either! I don't know.

I wished I could help your little girl but I can only offer compassion for what has happened as I know all too well how unprofessional medical practice is starting to get.

I never knew that MRSA could be dragged into the vein - I was never told that by the nurse that didn't clean the area or my mom.

Hopefully the pediatrician will be able to help.

Kind regards

DS
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replied March 9th, 2009
I have since spoken to my daughters pediatrician and was assured that the antibiotic my daughter is now taking will cover anything that may have been dragged in by the needle. However, that does not mean I am going to let the lab tech get away with his unprofessionalism. My husband has taken that into his own hands. We have filed a complaint with the office she was seen in and are going to contact the head office today. We are not going to strike any sort of deal because something could come of it in the future. Luckily my daughter just had a string of blood work right before Christmas so if anything shows up now I have proof it was not there before. We are going to talk with a lawyer and be prepared to sue. We are going to refuse to pay for the blood test she had because of the unclean way it was performed. We are contemplating demanding another round of blood tests to make sure she caught nothing. We of course would make sure it was done right in most likely in a different office. We just aren't sure more blood tests are necessary. If we decide to have it done we will expect that expense to be paid by the lab also. If anything surfaces we will sue and take it from there.
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replied March 10th, 2009
Experienced User
Hi, Jules13

Hopefully the antibiotic will clear anything up.

I agree with you, the lab tech should not get away with it.

Hopefully there will be an answer soon and the string of bloodwork done before Christmas will provide good evidence.

I do not think you should pay for the blood test that was not performed correctly.

I would certainly get the other bloodwork done elsewhere. Perhaps ask around and see what other people recommend as then you will have an idea of a good practice to go to.

Again, I agree, they should pay the expenses for the next set of bloodwork as this problem was caused by them.

I hope you and your daughter will be able to get this sorted and that you can both be happy and safe.

Kind regards

DS
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replied March 10th, 2009
Thank you Smile
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replied March 11th, 2009
Experienced User
Your welcome. Smile
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replied March 23rd, 2009
blood drawn today
today I went to get blood drawn and the nurse did not have gloves she got cotton ball and filled it with alcohol then she put it on metal plate and there was drops of dried blood but not where she had put the wet cotton ball. then she picked it up and cleaned the area where she was going to draw blood. then she place it back on plate. then she inserted needle. picked up the alchol cotton ball she had origanally used on my arm and then put a bandaid. Could I have cought somehting from this? i am getting worried?
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replied March 26th, 2009
Experienced User
Hi, yucatan76

Sorry I haven't been able to post sooner.

That nurse sounds very unhygienic as, although there was no dried blood where she actually set the cotton ball, the area near it and where she'd put it had dried blood and that is what concerns me and I think you may want to ask about this at the practice or hospital where you had it as it is unacceptable.

I could not really say whether you may have caught something but if I'd had that kind of treatment where she actually set the cotton ball on or near an area with dried blood near it then I would certainly be questioning it and also asking perhaps for some tests to find out as it needs ruling out after you were put at risk needlessly.

That is definately worse than the treatment I had when I had my blood test as, although my nurse didn't clean the area and then touched it with bare hands before sticking it, there was no blood as far as I could see from another person.

I have to say, I am surprised that this nurse didn't check this before using the metal plate as it should, ideally, be checked before use.

My advice would be to ask about it and also get some tests to rule it out and make sure you haven't caught anything just to be on the safe side.

I feel sad at all this malpractice as really there is no need for it and it's just putting people's health at risk.

Good luck. Smile

Kind regards

DS
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