Infectious Exposure

UT Southwestern Medical Center provides medical care and counseling to students who have been exposed to blood and/or body fluids or active tuberculosis. UT Southwestern’s Occupational Health Services manages exposures to blood or body fluid. Student Health Services manages tuberculosis exposures.

Follow these general instructions if an exposure occurs:

  • Needlestick/sharps injury or skin exposure: Immediately rinse the exposed body area thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Mucous membrane/eye exposure: Immediately flush eyes, mouth, or nose with plentiful amounts of water as soon as possible following exposure.

What Do I Do If I Have an Exposure?

If you think that you have been exposed to a patient’s blood or body fluid, you need to report it as soon as possible. Page the exposure pager at 214-645-1600. This number is located on the back of your student ID card. Let the nurse who answers the page know the source patient’s name and exactly what happened. The nurse will walk you through what to do.

If the exposure occurs at a UTSW facility:

  • Draw two serum separation tubes and a small lavender top tube. (If only one tube can be collected, collect the serum separation tube.) The bedside nurse or charge nurse can assist you with this. Random identifying letters/numbers will be assigned by the exposure nurse to be used to label the blood collected.
  • You may have your labs drawn as well to determine a baseline and to see if you are immune to hepatitis B. Occupational Health will follow you through your course of treatment and monitoring if needed.

If the exposure occurs at Parkland Hospital or the Dallas VA Medical Center or another non-UTSW facility, in addition to contacting the UTSW exposure pager, you will need to contact the exposure pager for that facility. The charge nurse where you are can help you with this. All facilities have a routine in place to deal with exposures. UTSW Occupational Health cannot order lab work on a source patient not admitted to a UTSW facility, but we will be glad to assist you in contacting the correct person.

UTSW Occupational Health will be happy to follow your course of care after your exposure should you need any further lab work, treatment, or monitoring.

The source patient is typically tested for HIV, hepatitis C, and hepatitis B. If the source patient is known to have HIV or hepatitis, please let the exposure nurse know.

Post-Exposure Active Tuberculosis

Students who have had an exposure to a patient with an active tuberculosis (TB) infection should follow these guidelines:

  • A student identified as coming in contact with an infected patient should have a tuberculin skin test (PPD) within 10 days of the exposure. If the student has had a negative PPD test within one to two months prior to the exposure, this will serve as the baseline test.
  • A repeat PPD will be performed within six to eight weeks of the exposure. If the student has completed the Past Positive Quantiferon/Past Positive PPD Questionnaire due to past PPD-positive tests, he or she will repeat the questionnaire in 10 to 12 weeks to evaluate any change in health status.
  • Students who have tested PPD-positive in the past should complete the Past Positive Quantiferon/Past Positive PPD Questionnaire (PDF) (also available in the Student Health Center) and return it to Student Health Services.
  • The student should report any symptoms of TB (fever, persistent cough, weight loss, fatigue, night sweats) to Student Health Services at 214-645-8690.