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View Full Version : Medical Question: My MC stands on a used needle



DrummerGirl
02-13-2010, 02:04 PM
Heyyyyyyyyyyyy :)

My MC stands on a used needle (as it says in the thread title ;)).

Is standing on it alone enough to provide risk of infection? (I assume so, as long as it pierces the skin, but just checking ;)). I want to ensure she's properly jabbed and therefore at risk...

First: What is the medical protocol? I've read about it in the newspapers, the victim having to be tested and then waiting for up to three months until they find out all the results conclusively.

I will do some more research, but I thought there may be some experts here could help me out.

What do they test for? What does the testing involve? Is there anything I should know to ensure the scenario is realistic and plausable?

Secondly: Has this ever happened to anyone here? If so, - and assuming you don't mind sharing - what internal effect did it have on you? Or any other thoughts you could offer to help me flesh out the sub-plot. PM me if you like.

BTW, the book is set in Australia, but I would assume the medical procedure is the same throughout the western world?

Thanks :D

cscarlet
02-13-2010, 07:49 PM
The response procedures usually vary depending on the suspected agent. What disease(s) are you looking at infecting your MC with?

And when you say "needle"... What kind of needle? A medical syringe? An unknown needle just lying on the ground, like from drug usage or something?

Fern
02-13-2010, 08:08 PM
My first thought would be to take the needle to the hospital/lab in case they can test it too. (Assuming your scene doesnt happen in a medical facility). I think most people would be worried about contracting HIV or Hepatitis C. If you aren't wanting your MC to actually contract a disease, you might make it a diabetic's needle that wasn't disposed of properly.

Scoates
02-13-2010, 08:18 PM
Or leave it a mystery. What if the MC never told anyone and just hoped she hadn't caught anything. That would get the reader squirming.

Chase
02-13-2010, 09:18 PM
Hey! I know nothing about medicine and have never been to Aussyland, but I always wanted to answer like some do in my few fields of expertise:

I think dedicated marathon runners who step on used needles may get serious athlete's foot. If it happens in the outbacck, I heard they might also grow a stomach pouch.

No need to thank me; it was pure pleasure.

GeorgeK
02-13-2010, 11:50 PM
Unless there's new technology since 5 years ago when I retired, it would be unlikely that there'd be enough blood or serum on just a needle to do any tests for HIV or Hepatitis. If this happened at a workplace, the boss would want to draw titers to test for those and maybe a few more depending on the situation, mainly to have a baseline to show whether or not they tested positive before any reasonable amount of time had elapsed. the reason for that is some people have been accused of deliberately pricking themselves at work and then getting workmans comp or work health insurance to pay for a very expensive treatment for a disease that they had contracted already outside of work.

If it was just a needle without a syringe of blood to actively inject anything, contracting HIV that way would be unlikely (but not impossible) since there is a threshold of infectious material that has to be present in order for someone to get infected. HIV is environmentally a weak virus and doesn't survive long outside a host, so even if there was HIV present on the needle, unless it had just been used, most likely it would be dead already when the person stepped on it. (Note that I say possibility and probability. The character could have a particular susceptibility and be that one in a million chance)Hepatitis is tougher and so would be a more worrisome probability.

They used to give people Gamma Globulin shots to try to bind up antigens in the bloodsteam, but that might be out of date.

JulieHowe
02-14-2010, 12:14 AM
Heyyyyyyyyyyyy :)

My MC stands on a used needle (as it says in the thread title ;)).

Is standing on it alone enough to provide risk of infection? (I assume so, as long as it pierces the skin, but just checking ;)). I want to ensure she's properly jabbed and therefore at risk...

First: What is the medical protocol? I've read about it in the newspapers, the victim having to be tested and then waiting for up to three months until they find out all the results conclusively.

I will do some more research, but I thought there may be some experts here could help me out.

What do they test for? What does the testing involve? Is there anything I should know to ensure the scenario is realistic and plausable?

Secondly: Has this ever happened to anyone here? If so, - and assuming you don't mind sharing - what internal effect did it have on you? Or any other thoughts you could offer to help me flesh out the sub-plot. PM me if you like.

BTW, the book is set in Australia, but I would assume the medical procedure is the same throughout the western world?

Thanks :D

HIV and hepatitis are the areas of greatest concern. A healthcare professional who accidentally pricks themselves with a needle can take something called a drug cocktail, a regiment of drugs normally given to AIDS patients.

http://www.avert.org/needlestick.htm

DrummerGirl
02-14-2010, 02:09 AM
Hey guys, thanks for your responses. Awesome stuff.


The response procedures usually vary depending on the suspected agent. What disease(s) are you looking at infecting your MC with?

Just aiming to induce a bit or paranoia, perhaps some reckless and out-of-the-ordinary behaviour. MC doesnt tell anyone it happened. I don't think I'll actually infect her (at this stage :))

And when you say "needle"... What kind of needle? A medical syringe? An unknown needle just lying on the ground, like from drug usage or something? Need to refine my thoughts on this depending what suits the purpose of the plot. I had been thinking an unknown needle lying on the ground. You hear about that happening in the news.


Or leave it a mystery. What if the MC never told anyone and just hoped she hadn't caught anything. That would get the reader squirming.

I had been planning on leaving it a mystery to the other characters, and initially the readers - as in not initially explaining away what her thoughts are referring to (leaving it more open-ended). BUT her not following through (medically) after standing on the needle? Hmmm - THIS COULD BE GOOD... Will work this possibility through. THANKS :D The more I think about this, the more I like it...


Hey! I know nothing about medicine and have never been to Aussyland, but I always wanted to answer like some do in my few fields of expertise:

I think dedicated marathon runners who step on used needles may get serious athlete's foot. If it happens in the outbacck, I heard they might also grow a stomach pouch. :D A stomach pouch? :D - this could be an interesting angle ;) I'd just have to figure out how to get her in the outback...:)

No need to thank me; it was pure pleasure. I'm glad :)

JulieH: Thanks for the link. I sent a while reading through other links I found - but some are not as reliable as others. Yours is fab :)

George: Thanks. Yeah, it's all rather a spectacular anti-climax - seems fairly unlikely to be infected with anything. But I'm hoping most people's initial reaction would be horror and sick-in-the-guts speculation of what they could be infected with. Your info has been helpful.

Fern: Thanks :) Yeah, I'm hoping most people would be worried about contracting AIDS or HIV (however unlikely) My MC's sure going to worry about it...

Scoates
02-14-2010, 04:14 AM
Oh, I'm glad you liked the idea. I was thinking it would be interesting to even mention a rash later, round the puncture.

Rowan
02-14-2010, 06:18 AM
Heyyyyyyyyyyyy :)

My MC stands on a used needle (as it says in the thread title ;)).

Is standing on it alone enough to provide risk of infection? (I assume so, as long as it pierces the skin, but just checking ;)). I want to ensure she's properly jabbed and therefore at risk...

First: What is the medical protocol? I've read about it in the newspapers, the victim having to be tested and then waiting for up to three months until they find out all the results conclusively.

I will do some more research, but I thought there may be some experts here could help me out.

What do they test for? What does the testing involve? Is there anything I should know to ensure the scenario is realistic and plausable?

Secondly: Has this ever happened to anyone here? If so, - and assuming you don't mind sharing - what internal effect did it have on you? Or any other thoughts you could offer to help me flesh out the sub-plot. PM me if you like.

BTW, the book is set in Australia, but I would assume the medical procedure is the same throughout the western world?

Thanks :D

Hey! In my previous occupation needles were a big problem. Hep shots were required/encouraged--I can't tell you how many times I came close to getting jabbed while searching people, cars or houses. Needles were literally everywhere. We wore special gloves but that's near impossible while searching a person...and you'd be surprised where one can hide a needle.

To answer the question, not sure if just standing on it would be a problem (don't think so) but I know for sure that we were tested for Hep and HIV--I'm not sure what else--when jabbed with a hypo needle. I only had one really close call and I remember being in a panic. The waiting is excruciating, esp when they bring up false positives/negatives and retesting.

Hope that helps!

Sarahbear9789
02-16-2010, 10:54 AM
The risk of HIV would be very low, unless the blood was in an environment that is similar to a fridge that is used transfusion blood. Hepatitis would be able to spread in almost any environment. I have an uncle that has Hepatitis and he has to be super careful with needles that he uses for his medications. They would also run you on AIDs meds with getting stabbed by a needle, because it you test posistive they would want to get proper treatment.

boron
02-18-2010, 05:23 PM
Used needles are usually from drug addicts. HIV, hepatitis B and C viruses can survive in the blood in the needle for some time (minutes, hours, but not likely more than one day). A chance to get infected this way is extremely small (http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/resources/qa/hoax1.htm). Still, most people would panic, take a needle with them to the infectious clinic and get tested, I guess. Reliable results for HIV can be expected in three weeks (http://www.avert.org/hivtesting.htm) (by a special PCR test), and in few days for hepatitis B or C.

Addicts who share needles immediately after their use are more likely to be infected (especially by hepatitis C), though.

Rarely, an old used needle could contain bacteria that cause tetanus (bacteria come from the soil - they can be there for years). Since most of us are vaccinated against tetanus, no disease would likely follow, even if bacteria have actually entered the blood, but still you would be tested for tetanus and vaccinated again - just in case. So, a disease is unlikely, but the procedure is quite likely.

More likely, a needle would push some staph bacteria commonly present on the healthy skin from the skin surface deep into the skin - a staph infection, in the form of cellulitis (painfull underskin redness and swelling) would follow in the next days. Such an infection would need antibiotic treatment.

maryland
02-20-2010, 02:01 AM
One of the cleaners in the hospital alongside me got pricked by a needle in the rubbish sacks ( it was wrongly placed;should have been in the special ' medical sharps' disposal bin. She went home and did not say anything until the next day.

Then there was a flurry of alarm, and an expensive secial serum was motored forty? miles from Cambridge to Norwich (UK) "You came into work a poor woman today," she was told,"but you're going home with a lot of money injected into you." (True, honestly.)
This happened in a floor of wards that had Aids and hepatitis and jaundice and drug addicts. The nurses had medical insurance but the cleaners, after privatisation, did not. I left soon after. It was too great a chance to take.

DrummerGirl
02-20-2010, 02:13 AM
Thanks guys. :D

This is great. I'm feeling a lot more confident about using this subplot.

:):):)