Needle-stick Guideline Clinical Presentation

Updated: Oct 13, 2017
  • Author: Megan A Stobart-Gallagher, DO; Chief Editor: Jeter (Jay) Pritchard Taylor, III, MD  more...
  • Print


No symptoms of disease should be expected from the needle-stick exposure, upon a timely presentation.

The history should focus on the patient's medical history, including immunizations and risk factors for both HIV and hepatitis.

Specific questions include the following:

  • Complete immunization record, including tetanus and hepatitis B
  • Previous occupational exposure to body fluids
  • Intravenous drug abuse
  • Sexual history
  • Body piercing or tattooing
  • Receiving blood and/or blood products
  • Any history of dialysis
  • Travel outside the United States in the last year


No abnormal physical findings, other than evidence of the reported trauma, should be expected upon a timely presentation.

At a minimum, a baseline screening examination of the lungs, liver, and lymph nodes should be documented for future reference.



Risk factors for occupational exposure to body fluids include the following:

  • Failure to adhere to universal precautions
  • Using equipment designed without appropriate safety features
  • Performance of exposure-prone procedures