Monday, June 23, 2014

Uh-Oh - A trip to the ER!

When you work with scalpels for 40 hours during the week your odds of cutting yourself are significantly higher than the average individual.  I was able to go six months before the odds were no longer in my favor.  I had just put away a really gruesome leg amputation specimen and changed my scalpel blade (thankfully) to start working on some bone specimens. I took my first section out of a femoral head (remember this guy from my getting a workout at work post?) and was going back for more when the specimen rolled and the scalpel rolled with it – straight through my middle finger.  And when I say through, I mean the blade went in one side of my finger and out on top of my knuckle (there was a lot of force behind this cut).  Thankfully, I work in a hospital and could walk upstairs to the Emergency Department.  Because I was working with another human’s body parts, it wasn’t enough to bandage me up and send me on my way. I had to be sure that I didn’t become infected with any bloodborne pathogens (mainly HIV and Hep C). After testing of all parties involved, the results were negative, which was a huge relief!
All smiles in the ER - yes my supervisor did capture
every step of the adventure
Of course it had to be the middle finger!

Injuries like this are a very real part of being a Pathologists’ Assistant – typically they aren't as severe as this one, but nicks and scrapes are bound to happen.  We handle many tissue types and bodily fluids each day that it’s important to be aware of the exposure risks that we may encounter on the job. I was very lucky that I had been cut with a new blade, on a specimen that had been in formalin and then a decalcifying solution (makes bones softer) for two days.  If I had cut myself on a fresh specimen, like the leg I was previously working on, I may not have been so lucky.  Moral of the story –  stabilize femoral heads and if a specimen requires that much force to take a section, it's probably not ready to be cut!

You could definitely say I went out with a bang my last week at Butler Memorial Hospital. No worries though, I’m able to continue grossing as usual and have moved down to Charleston, WV to start my next rotation at Thomas Memorial Hospital.

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