Bone Sliver Penetrates Researcher’s Hand and Exposes Him to HIV

What Happened?

A researcher was preparing to remove bone marrow from a humanized mouse which had been infected with HIV six weeks prior to the experiment. The researcher was working inside a biosafety cabinet and wore appropriate BSL2+ PPE including a disposable gown and double gloves. During the procedure the bone splintered and a small sliver penetrated the researcher's finger. The researcher removed the bone sliver from his hand causing the finger to bleed. He immediately removed his gloves and washed the affected area. The researcher was escorted to Occupational Health and Safety by his PI within 10 minutes of the incident. 

What Was The Cause?

The researcher was holding the bone between his fingers and applied too much force when attempting to flush out the bone marrow, which caused the bone to splinter.

What Corrective Actions Were Taken?

Review bone marrow extraction procedure and update SOP if necessary.

How Can Incidents Like This Be Prevented?

After 10 min sterilization in ethanol bones turn brittle and splinter easily.

  • Use forceps to hold the bone in place and never hold it with your fingers; this method prevents splinters to penetrate your hand; it also prevents accidental needlesticks when flushing out the bone marrow with a syringe



Minimize exposure to biohazards:

  1. Expose the wound
  2. Express the wound
  3. Flush the wound under running water for 5 min while expressing
  4. Cover the wound and seek medical attention
  5. Report the incident to your supervisor



  • Human immunodeficiency virus
  • Causes progressive failure of the immune system (AIDS)
  • No cure