Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
MD Education

Universal Precautions Policy

If stuck with a contaminated needle, or otherwise subjected to contamination by bodily fluids from a patient, there is a small but very real risk of acquiring a serious infection from the host. It is to your benefit to report all incidents because, if necessary, you will need to prove that you were infected during your training in order to claim the disability insurance offered through the medical school. If such an incident does occur, you are automatically excused from whatever you are doing. Remember that your health comes first.

Medical Attention

Will include cleansing and treating any wound, obtaining both your blood and the host blood for testing, and the provision of counsel on follow-up treatment and testing. At the time of any potential contamination, you should excuse yourself from the activity under way and immediately call or go to the site specified below:

  • NMH
    Notify the unit manager or charge nurse immediately and call NMH Corporate Health 312-926-8282 (If this is after hours or on a weekend, the office will be closed, but an answering service will take your call and will page the nurse on call.)
  • Shirley Ryan AbilityLab
    Corporate Health 312-926-8282 (If this is after hours or on a weekend, the office will be closed, but an answering service will take your call and will page the nurse on call.)
  • Lurie Children's
    Lurie Children’s Portal: The Point Policies and Procedures/Occupational Health Blood/Body Fluid Exposure Management site
  • VAW
    Student should report immediately to VA Employee Health (7 North Damen) during regular work hours (Mon-Fri 8 AM - 4PM) and to the Emergency Department at all other times.
  • MacNeal
    Report the incident to your chief resident or Dr. Zawacki. Proceed to Employee Health ext. 3427 (before 4 PM ) or to the Emergency Department ext. 6000 (after 4 PM).
  • If at a physician's office or other site, you would still contact Corporate Health at NMH.

Stroger Hospital

All Cook County Health & Hospitals System (CCHHS) Feinberg Medical students exposed to blood and/or body fluids in the course of their job duties shall have appropriate post exposure evaluation and follow up by the staff of CCHHS Employee Health Service (EHS).

Procedure/Process — Exposure Incident

A.  Responsibilities of Feinberg School of Medicine students at CCHHS   

If a medical student sustains exposure to blood and/or body fluids in the course of their job duties, they should follow the procedures indicated:

1. First AidWash needle sticks and cuts with soap and water;

  • Flush splashes to the nose, mouth, or skin with water;
  • Irrigate eyes with clean water, saline, or sterile irritants.

2. Notification of Exposure

  • Inform supervisor of exposure immediately;
  • Request assistance from other staff members as needed;
  • Obtain Source Patient name and medical record number, if known, to report to EHS for purpose of exposure management.

3. Report to CCHHS Employee Health Services (CCHHS EHS) or, if CCHHS EHS is not open, to the Emergency Department

  • CCHHS EHS Location:
    Stroger Hospital Administration Building
    3rd Floor, West Wing, Suite 3001900
    West Polk Street, Chicago, Illinois 60612
    Phone:  312-864-1970 Fax: 312-864-9566
    Hours:  Monday – Friday 8:00AM until 3:30PM

All students injured during hours that CCHHS EHS is closed shall have initial evaluation and intervention in the Emergency Department. These personnel shall be instructed to report to CCHHS EHS on the next occasion that CCHHS EHS is in session.  Students may be referred from CCHHS EHS/ED to their personal physician for further follow up. Contractors, rotators and volunteers will receive initial evaluation and treatment through CCHHS EHS and will be referred for follow-up to their personal or institutional health care provider.

You should not receive any bills for treatment, but if you do, send them to:

Leland E Roth
Assistant Director, Office of Risk Management
Northwestern University
2020 Ridge Avenue #240
Evanston, IL 60208-4335
Phone: 847-491-4334
Fax: 847-467-7475

While the exact reporting procedure varies from hospital to hospital, the first step is to contact the appropriate person immediately. This individual deals with such incidents on a routine basis. He or she can order testing of the patient and you, provide counseling regarding the need and desirability of further testing or treatment, and answer any questions you may have.

For your own information and for patients who ask, it is important to differentiate between confidential and anonymous testing. Confidential testing is done at a medical institution, and the results become part of the medical record, which is available to insurance companies and may affect future insurability. Anonymous testing is done by "neutral" organizations like Family Planning and state/county health agencies, and only the patient will know the result. Consider this issue before being tested.

In order to minimize your risk of exposure, follow the universal precautions. Wear gloves, eye protection, and facemask during procedures. Treat all patients and bodily fluids as if they are infected. Wash your hands frequently. Don't recap needles, and dispose of all sharp objects immediately after use. If you follow them consistently, they will become second nature.