Needle Sticks and Exposure


Purpose: To outline appropriate preventative measures and what to do in case of unprotected exposure to body fluids.

Covered Parties:  Medical students.


To prevent exposure to potentially infectious materials, students must use standard precautions with all patients and when performing any task or procedure that could result in the contamination of skin or clothing with blood, body fluids, secretions, excretions (except sweat), or other potentially infectious material, regardless of whether the those fluids contain visible blood.

Standard precautions are to be observed to prevent contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials. ALL body fluids are considered potentially infectious materials. All students are responsible for their personal safety and the safety of their teammates. Students should follow safe practices when handling sharps. Students must use appropriate personal protective equipment such as, but not limited to, gloves, gowns, laboratory coats, face shields or masks and eye protection, and mouthpieces, resuscitation bags, pocket masks, or other ventilation devices.

Standard Precautions include:

  • Hand hygiene
  • Eye and face protection
  • Use of gowns and gloves
  • Sharps management

Additional “Transmission Based Precautions” must be used in addition to standard precautions for patients with known or suspected infection or colonization with highly transmissible or epidemiologically important pathogens.

In the event of a needle stick or any unprotected exposure to blood, bloody body fluids, or other potentially infectious material, either in a lab or a clinical setting you should:

  • Wash the exposed area and perform basic first aid
  • Notify your supervisor – resident or faculty – of the occurrence and that you are leaving to seek care immediately.
  • Get evaluated immediately: it is extremely important to receive counseling regarding the risk of acquiring a communicable disease. If indicated, prophylaxis should be started right away, usually within one hour.

If you are at Boston Medical Center

BMC’s Occupational Health clinic  during working hours or the BMC Emergency Department after hours and on weekends


The Working Well Occupational Health Clinic is located:

Doctor’s Office Building (DOB 7) – Suite 703

720 Harrison Ave, Boston MA 02118

Telephone: 617-638-8400

Pager: 3580

Fax: 617- 638-8406

Hours: Monday-Friday, 7:30a.m. – 4:00p.m.

  • Tell the receptionist you have had an unprotected exposure (needle stick), and you will be fast-tracked into the clinic.
  • A counselor will discuss post-exposure prophylaxis with you

BMC’s Occupational Health will notify the Office of Student Affairs of exposures occurring at BMC within 48 hours.  These situations can be very stressful and we are here to help. To speak to a dean immediately about the incident, please page the dean on duty by calling (617) 638-5795 and sending a page to #4196 or sending a text page to pager #4196 through the pager directory.

If you are at a non-Boston Medical Center site

Immediately check with your supervising physician about the site-specific needle-stick protocol

  • If the site has its own emergency room or occupational health you will be directed to go there
  • If the site does not have its own emergency room or occupational health, you will go to the nearest emergency room

Coverage for provided services is included in the Aetna student health insurance plan offered by the University. In the event that you do not have Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine health insurance (Aetna), you must contact your carrier and determine the level of services covered. Submit any billing received to your insurance company. The OSA will provide reimbursement for out-of-pocket co-pays. We strongly encourage you to keep your health insurance card in your wallet at all times.

For questions regarding this policy please contact Dr. Angela Jackson, Associate Dean of Student Affairs. Dr. Jackson can be reached in the Office of Student Affairs (617-358-7466).

Last revision: June 2018