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Health Personnel put 60,000 People at Risk for Hepatitis

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

A new study from the CDC shows that health care personnel, working outside of hospitals, have put 60,000 people at risk for Hepatitis B and C because of failure to follow basic infection control guidelines.

Dr. John Ward, director of CDC′s Division of Viral Hepatitis says, "Thousands of patients are needlessly exposed to viral hepatitis and other preventable diseases in the very places where they should feel protected. No patient should go to their doctor for health care only to leave with a life-threatening disease." He calls the report a "wake-up call".

A full report tracking the incidence of hepatitis B is published January 6 in the Annals of Internal Medicine, showing that over the past ten years, 450 people have acquired HBV or HCV infection because of lack of safety among health care workers. Common factors identified include lack of clean technique when injecting medications, reuse of syringes, and contamination of equipment from blood.

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Dr. Denise Cardo, director of CDC′s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion says, "More and more patients in the United States receive their health care in outpatient settings. To protect patients, infection control training, professional oversight, licensing, innovative engineering controls and public awareness are needed in these health care settings."

Infections from hepatitis, related to poor infection control practices among health care providers, included thirty-three outbreaks outside of hospitals in fifteen states in the past ten years. Twelve occurred in outpatient clinics, six in hemodialysis centers and fifteen in long-term care facilities, according to the CDC.

The CDC says that intensive oversight from states is needed to protect patients from hepatitis and other bacteria transmitted through blood in healthcare settings, in addition to ongoing education and among health care workers.

In order to address the problem the CDC, in conjunction with partners plan to target nursing and anesthesiology organizations to improve injection practices. They are also asking local public health facilities to carefully track and investigate incidences of hepatitis (HBV and HCV) cases. The CDC will work with dialysis center, long-term care facilities and diabetes communities to promote infection control practices, as well as working with healthcare licensing agencies to strengthen emphasis on infection control.

CDC Press Release