Friday, March 13, 2009

Don't Eat It If You See Human Blood

A good one today... A doctor's office called wanting advice on how to handle a blood-borne exposure. They had a patient visit them who claimed that she had gone out for a burger at lunchtime and was concerned about possible disease exposure. After she bit into the burger, she realized that there was "something on it that looked and tasted like human blood." She claimed to have spit it out and did not finish the burger.

"Is she sure it wasn't ketchup?"

"We asked her that too. Nope. She says it was blood."

"Did she tell the manager?"

"We didn't ask. Do we need to test her for blood-borne pathogens?"

We get calls about blood-borne exposures on occasion. These typically come from EMS, fire fighters, police officers. In the course of duty they get splashed with blood. Sometimes in their eyes or mouth. Or both. Generally speaking, the risk of contracting HIV or hepatitis B or C this way is pretty unlikely, but anything is possible. In those cases we recommend baseline testing. If possible, we would like to test the person who belonged to the blood but we are not always able to. If we feel the exposure was particularly risky, we will consult with the patient's doctor about post-exposure prophylaxis. Baseline testing is done, with a follow-up test at 6 months. Sometimes they will follow-up at 3 months also, but it really takes until 6 to be sure. This may not prevent anything, but at least gives them records to file for worker's comp.

There is a huge fear factor for a lot of people when it comes to human blood.

Back to our hamburger woman. While I am skeptical about the story, it wouldn't hurt to do baseline testing. My investigator brought up a good point: Perhaps the burger is just a cover story. Perhaps the woman shot up with a friend the night before and thinks she caught something.

I have a tendency to assume people are telling the truth. In this job, you find out pretty quickly that sometimes people lie.

Either way, if your burger has something that looks like human blood on it, send it back to the kitchen.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, Dr. G., you make me ROTFLMAO sometimes... ;)