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The Northern Health Authority is investigating after a young girl was potentially exposed to HIV during a routine vaccination in Fort St. James.
The six-year-old girl’s father told a Prince George radio station that the needle accidentally went right through his daughter’s arm and punctured the nurse’s hand.
“There was blood exchanged as that needle was then drawn back through the child’s skin,” the radio report said.
A week later, the family learned the nurse was HIV positive, meaning their daughter must be periodically tested for several months.
The College of Registered Nurses of British Columbia requires registered nurses involved in exposure-prone procedures to know whether they have a blood-borne pathogen. Such nurses must take appropriate measures to protect patients, which “may include withdrawing from the procedure.”
According to the B.C. College of Physicians and Surgeons, physicians also have an ethical responsibility to be aware of their blood-borne pathogen status, especially if they are engaging in exposure-prone procedures such as using needles.
Its guidelines say physicians infected with HIV must not engage in exposure-prone procedures, defined as “where there is a risk of injury to the physician (that) may result in exposure of the patient’s open tissues to the blood of the physician. These include procedures where the physician’s gloved hand may be in contact with sharp instruments such as needle tips.”