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Can I get infected with a re-inserted butterfly needle?

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Practicing since : 2002
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I had some blood drawn on Friday, and the tech stuck me in the arm, didn't hit a vein and had to readjust the elastic band on my arm, but in the meantime, she had put the butterfly needle on the counter and then used the same needle to stick it back in my arm! When I realized what she did I made her take it out, swab my arm and use a new needle in the other arm. What are my chances of being infected with something? My arm bruised a little, as it usually does, but there are now some purple and reddish small dots within the bruise. Is that normal?
Posted Sun, 6 May 2012 in Infections
Answered by Dr. Robert Galamaga 1 hour later

Thanks for your query.

I can understand why you might be anxious about your experience recently with the phlebotomist. As for what your risk of infection might be, let me reassure you that is is exceedingly unlikely that you have contracted any type of infectious disease. This is true for a number of reasons not the least of which is that butterfly needles are uniformly disposed of prior to each patient sitting for a blood sample. It is certainly not standard procedure to re-insert a needle after it has been pulled out of the skin and the phlebotomist should be educated regarding this. If you have not provided feedback to the lab supervisor, I suggest you do so - for the benefit of the phlebotomist and future patients.

Now, as for the concern with the needle being out on the counter - it would be next to impossible for the needle to pick up any viral or bacterial elements enough to then infect you on the second pass of the needle. I am not at all concerned about this in your case.

Bruising is a very heterogeneous process. That is to say - bleeding under the skin can take very unique size and shape depending on the depth of the bleeding and durstion as well. I suspect the dots you are seeing are tiny areas where bleeding might have been a little more persistent. This is not extremely common but I have seen it on many occasions. I expect this area of bruising to slowly heal and resolve over the next 7 to 10 days. If more bruising, swelling or pain develops then that would be cause enough for concern to have this area evaluated by a physician.

Again I thank you for your query and I hope I have provided you with an adequate an informative response. Should you have additional questions, I am available to address them.


Dr. Galamaga
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Can I get infected with a re-inserted butterfly needle? 39 minutes later
That is great to hear! But my last concern is that the needle itself touched the counter. But you still feel even if it came in direct contact witht he counter, that it would be almost impossible to pick up an infectious disease?

Answered by Dr. Robert Galamaga 2 hours later
Hello again,

As to your followup question that is correct - even if the needle did touch the counter it remains nearly impossible for it to become the source of an infection. Again, you should feel confident and reassured that this is the case.

Thank you again for your question.


Dr. Galamaga
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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