Hospital’s warning over infected worker
Patients treated at the William Harvey Hospital by a healthcare worker who tested positive for hepatitis C will need to be tested for the disease.
The announcement comes from the East Kent Hospitals Trust, which runs the Ashford hospital, after two patients in Scotland who were seen by the infected doctor or nurse were referred for treatment for the virus.
The trust says it has written to 46 patients in Kent who were seen at the William Harvey between January and April 2006, when the healthcare employee worked there.
The letter recommends that they arrange a blood test via their GP.
In total, 8,383 patients throughout the UK are being contacted in relation to the alert.
They are primarily in Lanarkshire, Scotland, where the infected healthcare worker had previously worked for about 26 years.
The hepatitis C virus is transmitted through blood-toblood contact, and very rarely through sexual intercourse.
In most cases, those affected do not have any symptoms and so most people do not realise they have it.
If untreated, the infection can cause chronic liver disease, and, very rarely, cancer of the liver.
Based on the information available at the time the healthcare worker tested positive in 2008, the UK Advisory Panel on Healthcare Workers Infected with Blood-borne Viruses (UKAPHWIBV) advised that a patient notification exercise was not needed.
However, patients are now being notified after the NHS Lanarkshire’s health protection team were told in 2015 that a patient recently referred for treatment for hepatitis C who had a surgical procedure carried out by the healthcare worker.
Further investigations identified that it was probable that this patient was infected with the virus during a procedure carried out by the healthcare worker.
Subsequent investigations identified another patient with hepatitis C for whom it is probable that they were infected during a procedure carried out by the healthcare worker.
Following this, the UKAPHWIBV was consulted and recommended that all patients who were potentially at risk should be contacted and offered hepatitis C testing.
East Kent Hospitals Trust therefore carried out a thorough review of clinical records to identify patients who had a surgical procedure carried out by the healthcare worker in the three month period in 2006, and identified 46 patients.
Only patients who have received a letter need to undergo hepatitis C testing.
The hepatitis C virus