A college student who was accidentally pricked by an HIV-contaminated needle in December while serving as an unpaid student intern assistant at Mercy Hospital is suing the hospital and the San Diego Community College District.
The needle was left inside a pile of trash the woman had picked up to throw away, the suit alleges.
The Superior Court suit, filed Jan. 23, accuses Mercy Hospital of negligence and the community college district for failing to train its radiology technician students in methods of avoiding accidental needle pricks. The suit did not state the student's name or specify a dollar amount of damages.
The woman's attorney, Timothy C. Karen, and a spokesman for the community college district both declined to comment on the lawsuit. Mercy hospital staff would not discuss details of the incident while the litigation is pending.
Hospital procedures require workers to place used needles in a hardened cardboard container where the needles are broken, according to Michael Scahill, a spokesman for the hospital.
The December incident was the second known case at Mercy of either an accidental needle prick or injection with a needle previously used by an HIV or AIDS patient.
In September, 1989, a patient being treated for job-related back pain was accidentally injected with a syringe previously used on an AIDS patient. No lawsuit has been filed in that case, but the hospital has received a notice of violation from the San Diego County Department of Health Services after a state report on the incident.