Bloodborne Pathogen Exposure

Call the Needlestick Hotline immediately for guidance. 

During Business Hours: (323) 442-5631

After-Hours: (323) 442-7900 (Leave a message and a provider will get back to you within 30 minutes)

USC Student Health provides services, associated with needlestick and bodily fluid exposures, for currently enrolled/matriculated USC students at low or no out-of-pocket, except for the prophylactic medication.

Protocol/Information to Students and Providers

What is an exposure?

  • Percutaneous injury (e.g. needlestick or cut with a sharp object)
  • Eye splash or contact with other mucous membrane or non-intact skin (chapped, abraded, or dermatitis)
  • Potentially infectious bodily fluids:
    • Blood
    • Semen
    • Vaginal secretions
    • Cerebrospinal fluid
    • Pleural/pericardial/synovial/peritoneal fluid
    • Amniotic fluid
    • Feces
    • Any bodily fluid that may contain blood

If exposed what should I do?

  • Wash needle sticks and cuts with soap and water
  • Flush splashes to the nose, mouth, and skin with water
  • Irrigate eyes with clean water or saline
  • Obtain as much demographical data on the source patients as possible
  • Ask your supervisor to consent the source patient to testing for HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C at the time of exposure or when medically able to obtain consent. If possible, obtain a rapid HIV test on the source patient immediately.
    • During business hours, please call (323) 442-5631. You will either be scheduled a same day visit or a phone consultation with one of the physicians.
    • During after hours or weekends ONLY – please call either the needlestick hotline at (323) 442-7900 and leave a voicemail. A provider will call you back within 30 minutes. You can also call the ECSHC at (323) 442-5631 and ask for the nurse on call. The physician on call will evaluate the situation and determine what further evaluation and treatment is indicated.

Is there treatment to prevent blood borne disease after exposure?

  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) – may be prevented by taking post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) medications for up to 4 weeks (if indicated).
  • Hepatitis B (HBV) – in persons who have not been vaccinated or in non-responders to the vaccines, post exposure prophylaxis with two doses of HBV immune globulin is recommended.
  • Hepatitis C (HCV) – there is no vaccine against hepatitis C and no treatment after an exposure that will prevent infection.

How soon after an exposure should treatment start?

  • Post exposure treatment for Hepatitis B and HIV should be started as soon as possible, preferably within two hours after the exposure.
  • Immediate follow-up with the ECSHC even if source patient’s rapid HIV is negative.

If the source patient is known to be HIV+: 

  • Determine the most recent viral load
  • Obtain the antiretroviral treatment history, including any drug resistance