Worst Case Scenario: A Scalpel Mis-Slice

A trip to the lab goes very wrong. Do you know what it takes to survive?

Mnet 124408 Scalpel

The scene: You’re in the tissue culture room of a lab, conducting research. You’re following all the proper safety procedures and wearing lab gloves, safety glasses and a lab coat.

You’re working with a material that you definitely don’t want to be exposed to: human feces. To conduct your research involving human fecal occult blood, you slice into a sample of feces with a scalpel when you notice something has gone wrong: your hand is bleeding.

Uh oh! The material you’re working with could contain bloodborne pathogens including the Hepatitis C and Hepatitis B viruses or HIV.

What is the best way first step to cleaning your wound and minimizing the risk of infection or contamination from a dangerous substance in the lab?

  1. Quickly clean the wound with soap and water, and then cover it with a bandage.

  2. Squeeze blood from the wound while washing it with soap and water.

  3. Use the Safety Shower to wash the wound and contact your supervisor.



















B) Squeeze blood from the wound while washing it with soap and water.

This exact scenario unfolded in the lab of a seasoned scientist working for a medical device company and it was detailed in a report published by Safety Partners last year called “Incidents, Accidents, and Near Misses in Laboratory Research.”

In the real-life scenario, the doctor working on the research followed protocol correctly and squeezed blood from the wound to minimize the risk of infection. But unfortunately, he faced months of nerve-wracking testing for potential pathogens until he could be told definitevly that he hadn’t contracted any viruses from the scalpel mis-slice.


Have you had a safety scare in the lab or at a chemical facility? Get in touch with your own Worst Case Scenario story and it could be published here! Email meagan.parrish@advantagemedia.com.

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