Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania
MD Program

Needlestick Protocol

Exposure to Blood and Bodily Fluids - Perelman School of Medicine

Any medical student who sustains a needlestick or other wound resulting in exposure to blood or bodily fluids should follow this protocol.  

NOTE: Drug prophylaxis following a high-risk exposure is time sensitive. Immediately seek help from the appropriate hospital department.

Wash the affected area with soap and water and, if possible, cover it with a dressing. For ocular exposure, flush thoroughly with water. Inform the supervising resident, and report at once to the areas described below.

At HUP and the VA

  1. Go directly to HUP’s Occupational Medicine Division.
  2. If it is closed, report to the HUP Emergency Department. 
  3. Identify yourself as a medical student who has just sustained an exposure. 
  4. You will see a healthcare provider who is trained in assessing exposure risk. If you are seen in the Emergency Room, an occupational medicine doctor is on call 24 hours a day to provide immediate consultation on post-exposure drug treatment and counseling. Do not hesitate to ask the physician treating you to page the occupational medicine doctor carrying the needlestick pager. 
  5. You will be counseled and advised about post-exposure prophylaxis. 
  6. If indicated, you will be given a starter pack of the prophylactic drugs, which is recommended in accordance with the current guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control. 
  7. Baseline blood tests will be performed on you. 
  8. The physician at Occupational Health will contact the attending physician of the source patient to expedite consent to test the source patient. 
  9. Request a copy of your treatment plan, including baseline lab work, medications ordered, and source-patient results. 
  10. Call Student Health Service (SHS) at 215-746-3535 to schedule a non-urgent evaluation within one (1) week of exposure, if possible. 
  11. Bring your treatment plan, baseline lab results, list of medications ordered, and source-patient results with you to SHS. 
  12. You will be given a schedule to return to SHS for follow-up testing.

At Other Hospitals

Proceed to the area listed for the appropriate hospital below.

You will be treated in accordance with that hospital’s needlestick policy for healthcare workers. Needlestick policies for all affiliated hospitals have been reviewed by the director of infection control for HUP and meet established standards. All follow-up testing is performed at Student Health Services (SHS). Students must bring their records to SHS, so that appropriate follow-up testing can be scheduled.

  • Chester County Hospital – Report to the Emergency Department. 
  • Chestnut Hill Hospital – Report to the Emergency Department and notify Employee Health. 
  • Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia – Report to Occupational Health Service during weekdays. Report to the Nursing Supervisor on weekends and evenings. 
  • Lancaster General Hospital – Report to the Emergency Department. 
  • Outpatient Ambulatory Sites – Report to HUP Occupational Medicine or to its satellite in Radnor, whichever is closer to your site.    
  • Pennsylvania Hospital – Report to Employee Health (Duncan Building Basement). If closed, report to the Emergency Room. 
  • Presbyterian Hospital – Report to Occupational Medicine. If closed, report to the Emergency Room.  
  • Reading Hospital  – Report to the Emergency Department. 

Billing Procedures

The Perelman School of Medicine will pay for any charges not covered by your insurance. At the time of service, please provide your insurance information to the hospital. If you receive any invoice(s) for balance payments due, please bring these immediately to the Academic Programs Office COO so that the Perelman School of Medicine can pay these charges. 

Additional Assistance

If you have difficulty getting the consent of the source patient, or any other problems associated with your needlestick, please contact: 

Anna Delaney
Chief Operating Officer (COO)
Cell: 215-605-9286
DaCarla Albright, MD
Associate Dean, Student Affairs & Wellness
Cell: 215-605-9286
Jen Kogan, MD
Associate Dean, Student Success & Professional Development
Cell: 215-805-8949

The above information has been provided for students to have immediate access to helpful information. Find the full policy document here.