Investigation Launched Over Healthcare Worker Hepatitis C Concerns

Review Of Patient Notes Begins At Hospitals Across UK

11.09.2013

By Rob Dixon

An investigation has been launched by Public Health England, after a healthcare worker known to have been employed in obstetrics and gynaecology at a hospital in Wales has been diagnosed with the hepatitis C infection.

According to the health authority, the worker is known to have transmitted the virus to two patients during time working at a hospital in Wales between 1984 and 2002.

Aneurin Bevan Health Board has announced a lookback patient notification exercise which includes a review of at least 3,000 patient notes and records from Caerphilly District Miners Hospital, while 200 former patients from two other hospitals in Wales are also being contacted.

Similar exercises are also underway across hospitals in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland where the healthcare worker practised. Patients identified to have been exposed or potentially exposed are being sent letters and asked to call a helpline.

Public Health England has stressed there is only a small chance that patients might acquire hepatitis C through surgical contact with an infected healthcare worker. Since 2007, all healthcare workers new to the NHS are tested for the infection by their employing Trust.

Commenting on the issue, Lisa Jordan, a Partner and Head of Medical Law and Patients’ Rights at Irwin Mitchell, said: “While Public Health England have been keen to stress the chances of infection are low, the decision to issue this warning clearly demonstrates there is a certain level of concern over these revelations.

“The focus at present must remain on tackling the concerns of patients and ensuring that all aspects of this issue are thoroughly investigated. Following that, attention must turn to how these problems have emerged and what can be done to prevent similar issues from arising in the future.

“Many people will be worried by these developments and it is vital they are given reassurances that patient safety continues to be treated as an absolute priority.

“We would urge anyone with concerns over this issue to call the specialist helpline or seek further medical advice as soon as possible.”

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