Georgia Highlands College


In the study of human anatomy and physiology or medical microbiology, it is important to be able to observe samples from one's own body as much as possible.  This reinforces the knowledge gained from the course work in a very personal way.  Palpating bony landmarks through the skin, observing cheek cell preparations, EEG and ECG readings, pulse rate and blood pressure are examples of the use of one's own body as a study model.

The topics of hematology and immunology can be especially enhanced by students being able to observe fresh blood samples.  Due to dangerous blood-transmitted communicable diseases, blood samples from unknown donors such as may be obtained from hospital laboratories are no longer acceptable.  However, with controlled conditions and informed consent, fresh sampling from the students themselves can still be a safe educational procedure.

The following guidelines show the methods for blood handling which fit into CDC approved policy (MMWR, Aug. 21, 1987/Vol.36/No.2S)  Each student should read these guidelines carefully and carry them out precisely.  If so, safe learning from blood laboratory study can still be maintained.  If the student deviates from the procedure at all, he does so at his own risk.  For the student studying toward a career in health care, the practice of these guidelines helps the student realize the importance of early good habits and a cautious attitude for his future occupational success.

This policy has been developed for use in teaching biology laboratory courses.  This policy should protect both students and faculty members from untoward risk if it is followed diligently by those participating in such labs.  The policy is reviewed and updated as necessary due to continuing statistical research concerning the incidence of blood-borne diseases in the population.  Chairpersons of the Science, Math and PE and Health Sciences Divisions as well as those instructors involved in laboratory management meet together to analyze the educational benefit of learning proper blood-handling techniques and other information gained by continuing these lab exercises and comparing the benefits to the potential risks.

I. Source of Blood: Finger stick

     A. Uses:
          1. viewing living cells under the microscope
          2. observing effects of hypotonic, hypertonic, and isotonic solutions on living cells
          3. deriving the hematocrit value
          4. determining the blood type

 C. Procedure:
      1. Wash hands with soap and water before and after the procedure.
      2. All equipment is at a designated area in the lab where all blood work is done.
          Remain in this area under supervision by your lab instructor during the entire
      3. Clean fingers with alcohol swab and air dry.
      4. Use lancet or auto-lance only once.
      5. Only handle your own blood. (Auto-lancets are available.  These allow one to
          perform the "stick" on one's self, thus making it possible to perform blood work
          without cross-contamination among students.)
      6. Discard any items contaminated with blood in the container indicated by the instructor; i.e. lancets, glass slides, cover slips, capillets, etc.  This container is filled with a chlorine-based disinfectant of concentration sufficient to kill  viruses (either 1:10 dilution of 5.15% sodium hypochlorite [household bleach] with water or an approved commercial disinfectant).  It will be closed and autoclaved before discarding.
      7. Instructors and laboratory prep personnel should wear gloves when transferring the
          waste material to the prep room for disinfection and discarding.

     B. Precautions:
          1. This is a voluntary procedure.  Participate only if you have read these guidelines and
              know that you can follow them explicitly.
          2. Do not participate if you have ever been told you had hepatitis, its antigen, or are in
              any known risk category  for other known blood-transmitted diseases such as HIV
              infection (the "AIDS virus").  Risk categories for HIV infection have been expanded
              as the incidence in the population has increased.  Check the bulletin board in the lab
              for current information,
          3. Do not participate if you have any type of blood clotting insufficiency 
              (hemophilia, etc.)
          4. Do not participate if you have any doubts about your ability to cope with this activity.
              (Faint at the sight of blood, etc.)

III. Supervision:  An instructor will be available at all times during a lab which requires blood handling in order to give demonstrations and answer questions.  The blood work will be done at designated tables in view of the instructor.  That instructor will try to observe students for accuracy in performance of the task, but much depends upon the student's responsibility in following the guidelines.

IV. In case of potential contamination:  In cases of blood spills by accident or injury (anywhere on campus), the person attempting a clean-up should obtain and don gloves, place absorbent material (paper towels, etc.) over the spill, and flood the area with an approved disinfectant.  These items are placed in strategic offices across campus along with the first aid kits.  The biology laboratory prep room will provide an appropriately labeled autoclave bag for collection of the contaminated materials.  If you do get blood from another person on you, do not panic; just obtain adequate soap and water and wash immediately and thoroughly (the "3-Minute Handwash" is recommended).  Avoid getting the blood into the mucous membranes of your eyes or mouth or on an area of irritated or damaged skin.  FILL OUT, SIGN, AND TURN IN AN ACCIDENTAND FIRST-AID REPORT.
V. Detach the statement below, sign it, and turn it in.  Retain the above information for reference.

 STUDENT'S NAME __________________________ DATE______________

 WITNESS _________________________________ DATE______________

 INSTRUCTOR ______________________________ DATE______________

 TERM _______________YEAR________ COURSE _________________

    I have read the entire BLOOD HANDLING POLICY description, I have made sure that I understand it, and I know that deviating from it may put me at risk of infectious disease.

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