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.
Well, i thought i would give you my knowledge of this as i am training to be a doctor!
1) you cannot have caught a blood borne virus from that nurse - to do so she would have required a bleeding cut on her fingers and you would have to have a bleeding cut on your arm for any chance of mixing to occur! plus even in that case it is very unlikely as you usually need the blood to go into someones blood stream - therefore you would need to have the blood borne virus on the needle (which are always sterile and never used more than once in a health care setting) - don't forget that HIV doesn't survive very long outside of the body.
all doctors and nurses have to have hep B vaccinations and boosters so they are immune and cannot pass this to their patients, we also have to have HIV tests, so the likelihood of her having anything to give you is very small.
the practice when taking blood (aka. venepuncture) varies widely! i have never had a nurse wear gloves, wash their hands or swab the area first.
however, as medical students we are trained to swab the are first, we have to wash our hands twice (at least with alcohol gel) and we are supposed to wear gloves.
it all depends on the individual practice - don't forget you are well within your rights to ask someone to wash their hands!
as for gloves, it is more for our protection than the patients as if the person has clean hands and the patient has a clean surface for taking blood their should be no reason to wear extra protection.
swabbing the surface helps remove surface dirt and bacteria from the skin - it wont affect you significantly if bacteria from your skin gets into your blood due to the amount of white blood cells circulating in your blood that will protect you from infection - plus they aren't injecting anything into you they are just withdrawing blood from you.
if in the future you dont feel happy with a procedure - ask the nurse/doctor to wash their hands, wear gloves and use a wipe (can make it sting more tho!). you are well within your rights to do this as a patient and as it is our duty to care for you then they should abide by what you ask or give you a reason why they do not do it!
she may have washed her hands before you/she entered the room - lots of nurses/doctors do this to save time.
i hope you have been reassured by this and next time ask them to change what they are doing or ask for someone else to do it - they shouldn't be offended!
Your answer has helped to put my mind at ease.
The main thing I was bothered about was the part where because she touched the puncture site first and then didn't wipe it down before inserting the needle that this could've transferred things into the bloodstream from her finger as this is an open wound and the needle opened it up for things off her finger to get in?.
If she washed her hands would any blood spills from her previous patient have been thoroughly washed off so as not to contaminate her next patient with any blood borne diseases that the previous patient may have had?
I found it strange how, when I asked her to wipe the site before inserting the needle after she'd palpated the puncture site with her finger, she said that she didn't need to wipe the area. I'd have thought that after I'd asked her to wipe the area that she'd have done it just to keep her patients happy rather than sending them out unhappy and worried.
Could you please tell me what her reason may have been why she said she didn't need to clean the area before puncture?
This test was for arthritis and Rheumatoid arthritis just in case you may want to know what it was for in case not wiping the area may have something to do with the actual test?
Thanks very much for your help and I feel more reassured now you have answered my questions and just wished that that nurse would've answered my questions like you did rather than just saying that she didn't need to do it and giving no reason. You sound like a great doctor already, if only the ones where I'm at were as good.
I look forward to reading your next post as I just have these last few questions to ask. :-)
i very much doubt that the nurse had anything to transfer to you - as i said before we are tested and immunised against most of the nasty blood borne diseases
as for hand washing being thorough enough - well it depends on what she washed her hands with and if she washed her hands properly or just gave them a quick soap and rinse
it is very doubtful that she will have passed on anything from another patient to you - as i said before viruses such as HIV don't survive well outside of the body and for most transfer of blood borne nasties it has to be bodily fluids to bodily fluids i.e. blood to blood, semen to blood etc. etc. therefore she would need to have used the same needle on an infected patient and injected blood of theirs into yours - so highly unlikely considering she will have used a new needle
they are not that easy to catch through a procedure such as venepuncture (blood taking)
as for her reasons for not swabbing the site - well most people don't clean a site if it doesn't appear visibly dirty, i do not know why some choose to and others do not - i think we are just taught how to do it in the very clinical textbook way but in real practice this varies significantly - plus it would have made the procedure more painful as the wipes contain alcohol which would make it sting!
as i said before i have never been swabbed when having blood taken or having jabs so try not to worry yourself - if you really feel that this is a matter that needs addressing contact the practice and make your opinion known, if for nothing but reassurance
i have not heard of any specific tests needing swabbing or not - from my knowledge of testing for arthritis they tend to be routine blood tests and therefore have no special circumstances
i hope this has helped
Thanks very much for your very thorough and detailed advice and help. I now feel much more reassured now that you have given me some advice.
I do feel a bit silly worrying over this.
I can't thank you enough for your help and advice as it's put my mind at ease. :-)
I work in a tattoo shop which of course also has important hygiene standards one of which is that gloves are always worn and discarded and changed every time a new piece of equipment is used. So when having blood tests and noticing that nurses did not often use gloves I queried why this was so and spoke to a head nurse from Auckland Hospital who advised the following:
It is recommended that all staff wear gloves for their own protection, however, it is not a requirement set in the Code of Health of which they are governed by. Staff undergo Hep B and HIV tests on a regular basis and it is unlikely that a blood transfer would occur which would result in adverse effects to the transmitted patient. In response to the actual question though on why gloves are often not used and why they touch the skin with their fingers is very simple - some nurses are unable to feel the vein with their gloves on especially if a patient is commonly known for veins that are deep and it is actually so they have a better shot of getting the needle placed in the correct position the first time round. I am one of those people who often have nurses attempt 3-5 times before actually getting the vein so this was an acceptable reason to me however, if you would prefer that staff wear gloves, all you need to do is ask as it is their job to satisfy your needs.
Hope this is much more clear for anyone still not happy with other answers.
The question that i have is a bit different..
In my case, the nurse had worn the gloves, but after wearing the same, she did a lot of other things before drwaing the blood - busy typing in her computer, moving the dust bin with the gloved hands !!! it is as if it is just to protect her hands from any virus/dust/infection..
i feel this is completely against the standard operational procedures and practices.. can anyone closer to this please confirm this?
Kia Ora , I agree totally. It is standard precaustions to wash your hands and don gloves when exsposed to blood fluids. It is most certainly past of "Best Practice" in Clinical Practice. It is my understanding that it is not clearly understood or it is just plain egnorance with some nurses. I am a Nurse and have always used gloves. What they don't see to understand is that its is not just for our own protection but for the patient's.
Hi to Rockagal, This reply may be years laters and I am not a Nurse but let me tel you I don't believe a word you are writing this is like fiction story, every nurse I have met and know are PROFESTIONAL people with a great responsibility and there aim is to serve their patients in a profestional manner what you are implying is that nuses are like motor mechanics let me tel you a story the first thing a nurse is tought is infection control and it starts with HAND HYGIENE so go tel your fiction story of incompetant nurses to some one that will believe your story millions of us don't. Unfortunetly we have poeple like you that will never be satisfied or happy with life. PULL YOURSELF RIGHT AND STOP looking what others are doing wrong. Hope this will help you this is good advice. Clionton McCormack.
I realize that your post is 4 years old and you are probably not going to read this reply, but I want to put my 2 cents in anyway. I had the exact experience with the nurse in my doctors office. The difference is that I actually requested that she put on gloves for my blood test. She did put the gloves on, but she was offended and tells me I would not catch anything from her and that I am too nervous. I told her I am not nervous, I just don't want to add more health problems to myself needlessly.
The next time I went back, she remembers me and joked with the other nurse and receptionist that I am nervous and have high anxiety. So instead of correcting her own mistakes, she made me feel bad for simply asking her to wear gloves, which I think it was part of her job. I started to feel bad and thought for a moment that maybe I was wrong until I saw your post. Thanks for posting.
victim of a nasty nurse