Nurse died of Aids 11 years after accidental stabbing

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The Independent Online
A naval nurse died of Aids more than 11 years after accidentally stabbing herself with a dirty needle, an inquest heard yesterday. Kathryn McCarthy, then 25, was taking a blood sample from a female patient at the Royal Naval Haslar Hospital, Gosport, Hampshire, when she was jostled from behind and slipped, sticking the needle into her thumb. Three weeks later, in October 1984, she was admitted to the hospital after complaining of chest pains and headaches and developing a measles-like rash. HIV was diagnosed. Soon after the incident, the patient from whom she had been taking the blood sample died of pneumonia as a result of Aids.

Yesterday, an inquest at Salisbury in Wiltshire, was told Miss McCarthy suffered a number of illnesses over the following years and in 1991 developed full-blown Aids. The Wiltshire coroner, David Masters, recorded a verdict of misadventure on Miss McCarthy, who died on 6 March last year, aged 37.

The Royal Haslar surgeon, Captain William Edmondstone, told the inquest that Miss McCarthy's case had been a landmark incident which brought the spotlight on the issue of clinical safety for medical staff. "Ever since, nursing staff have been painfully aware of the risk to themselves, so that any procedure involving the letting of blood is taken with maximum securities," he said.