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July 1, 1998

Hazards of Glass Capillary Tubes to Health Care Workers

Author Affiliations

Margaret A.WinkerMD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthorPhil B.FontanarosaMD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 1998;280(1):31. doi:10-1001/pubs.JAMA-ISSN-0098-7484-280-1-jbk0701

To the Editor.—Microbore glass capillary tubes, used for hematocrit determination, pose a serious and avoidable risk of blood-borne pathogen transmission to health care workers. The fragile blood-filled tubes sometimes break, especially when the health care worker pushes one end of the tube into sealing clay. The glass typically fractures near the worker's fingers where force is applied and can cause lacerations and introduce blood directly into the wound. One such injury transmitted human immunodeficiency virus to a physician who has since died of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.1 Sometimes capillary tubes shatter during centrifugation, posing further risk of injury and blood exposure to staff when they remove glass shards and clean spilled blood.