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December/January 2019/2020 (vol. 16/4)

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Expert Witness: Needlestick injuries and bloodborne viruses

Issues of consent


If a healthcare worker suffers a needlestick injury where the source patient is infected with HIV they may be advised to start post-exposure prophylaxis to prevent HIV infection. But what should happen if the HIV status of the source patient is unknown, and they cannot give consent to be tested? And what happens if the source patient is dead? OH legal expert Diana Kloss explores these complex issues.

Health professionals in the course of their duties occasionally sustain a needlestick injury or otherwise have a wound or abrasion exposed to the blood or body fluids of patients. Those working in crime prevention or the emergency services may also suffer this kind of injury. They may be concerned that they are at risk of having contracted a bloodborne virus (BBV) and may be advised to undergo post-exposure prophylaxis which should be commenced as soon as possible…


Diana Kloss is a barrister, former part-time employment judge, Acas arbitrator and author

Author: Kloss D


Occupational Health at Work December/January 2019/2020 (vol. 16/4) pp37-39

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