Background The 2002 Scottish Executive guidance 'hepatitis C-infected health care workers' advised NHS Scotland occupational health departments regarding screening health care workers (HCW) who perform or who may perform exposure-prone procedures (EPPs) for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. In 2004, 2 years following the launch of the guidance, there was anecdotal evidence of challenges to implementation and clinical and ethical concerns regarding the screening process.
Aim To benchmark the implementation of the Executive guidance on hepatitis C-infected HCW in NHS Scotland.
Methods Lead occupational health practitioners in 15 Scottish NHS Boards completed a questionnaire and provided relevant local policies.
Results All 15 NHS Boards responded: 87% (n = 13) had implemented the guidance with partial implementation in the remaining boards. While 87% required identified and validated samples (IVS), no consistent method was reported for how results from an IVS were recorded. There was also no consensus as to the duration a result was considered valid or consistency in charging for tests required by other employers. Across Scotland, some employee groups were being screened over and above those recommended within the guidance. Overall, there was agreement on the value of a standardized NHS hepatitis C status certificate and the importance of explicit screening criteria and identifying EPP workers.
Conclusion The survey confirms the challenges in implementing the guidance on managing HCV-infected HCW within NHS Scotland. These include lack of clarity regarding who, when and how frequently a HCW should be screened and how the results of such tests should be recorded.
- exposure prone procedures (EPP)
- healthcare workers
- hepatitis C
- identified validated samples (IVS)