Needlesticks & Occupational Exposures | NYU Grossman Long Island School of Medicine | NYU Langone Health

Skip to Main Content
MD Student Health Services Needlesticks & Occupational Exposures

Needlesticks & Occupational Exposures

Students matriculated at NYU Grossman Long Island School of Medicine can access emergency care for accidental exposure to blood or other bodily fluids that occurs during training at our Student Health Center. This care may involve postexposure prophylaxis against HIV.

How to Respond If an Accident Happens

It is important that you seek medical attention within two hours of coming into contact with bodily fluids as a result of an accidental needlestick, splash, or other event, to prevent possible transmission of a pathogen.

Wash or Flush the Affected Area

If a needlestick or other sharps injury occurs, wash the affected area with soap and water and do not squeezing or manipulate the site. If you sustain a splash to exposed mucous membranes, including the mouth, nose, and eyes or eyelids, flush with water.

Notify Your Supervisor

Notify your supervisor right away to be relieved from duty. The resident or attending physician orders any necessary tests of the source patient’s blood. Do not approach the patient yourself.

Seek Treatment

Go to the Student Health Center for treatment within two hours of the exposure. If the incident takes place after hours or at an off-campus location, visit the closest emergency room, and notify us of your treatment as soon as possible.

Postexposure Prophylaxis

After an occupational exposure to blood and bodily fluids occurs, preventing the transmission of pathogens after contact involves several steps. These include performing blood tests to screen for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV; prescribing postexposure prophylactic medication, if necessary; and conducting follow-up testing on a case-by-case basis.

Your treatment may include antiretroviral medications to prevent HIV infection. We may recommend that you take one or more antiretroviral for up to 28 days after the event, depending on our assessment.

Monitoring After Treatment

If you are prescribed medication for postexposure prophylaxis, we require students to attend weekly follow-up appointments for as long as you are taking medication. It is important that you contact us if you if you think you might be pregnant or you experience any side effects, such as nausea, fatigue, diarrhea, headache, insomnia, dizziness, loss of appetite, yellowing of the eyes, fever, rash, or muscle or abdominal pain.

Appointment Schedule

Type of Care Within 2 Hours of Exposure Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 6 Week 16
Student Health Center appointment X X X X X    
Comprehensive metabolic panel and complete blood count X   X   X    
HIV and hepatitis C testing X         X X

Although the chances of infection from occupational exposure are low, we ask that our patients take precautions to prevent transmission. It is especially important in the first few months after an exposure to practice safe sex—for example, by using condoms or other barrier protection every time you have sex—and to refrain from breastfeeding to prevent HIV transmission.

During this period, it is also important to avoid donating blood, organs, plasma, or semen. Follow all safety rules at your workplace, and use safety equipment as needed.

Additional information about occupational blood-borne pathogen exposure is available from NYU’s Exposure Control Plan, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.