Hepatitis C Passed From Medical Provider to Patients
A medical technician infected with hepatitis C accidentally transmitted the virus to five patients in the "first documented case of its kind," a German study has found. The AP/Contra Costa Times reports that while the "vast majority" of hepatitis C cases are contracted from dirty needles by drug abusers, patients have been infected by their surgeons or anesthesiologists in "rare cases." Lead researcher Dr. R. Stefan Ross of the University of Essen estimated that the odds of hepatitis C infection are 140 for every one million invasive procedures. The technician, who did not normally wear gloves, contracted the virus after treating an infected patient during surgery in 1998, and within six weeks passed hepatitis C along to five patients to whom he helped administer anesthesia. Genetic analysis "confirmed the technician was the source of the virus." The case is reported in this week's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine (Donn, AP/Contra Costa Times, 12/20).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.