Needlestick injury on elective: what to do next
Lucy Elliott writes about her experience of getting a needlestick injury on elective
- By: Lucy Elliott
For my elective I wanted to go abroad and do something that would be different from anything I had experienced in medicine. I chose one of the world’s biggest, busiest trauma centres in Cape Town, South Africa.
Before my elective, I was naive about occupational exposure to bloodborne viruses (box 1)—HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C—because I believed it would never happen to me. I was aware that South Africa had one of the highest rates of HIV in the world, and I had received correspondence from the hospital’s elective officer highlighting its protocol for occupational exposure. Despite this, I did not anticipate that I would need to use the information.
On my elective I assisted in the trauma unit treating critically ill patients. We worked 12 hour shifts, including nights and weekends, and I became immersed in the life of a trauma doctor. People were admitted with multiple gunshot