Public Health and Primary CareREVIEW

Iatrogenic Hepatitis C Virus Transmission and Safe Injection Practices

Charles M. Defendorf, MBS, DO; Sindy Paul, MD, MPH; and George J. Scott, DO
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: November 21, 2017

Accepted: December 15, 2017

Published: May 1, 2018

J Osteopath Med; 118(5): 311-320

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection poses significant adverse health effects. Improper use of vials, needles, syringes, intravenous bags, tubing, and connectors for injections and infusions is a current preventable cause of iatrogenic HCV transmission. Numerous cases have demonstrated the need for continued vigilance and the widespread nature of this iatrogenic infection risk across a variety of medical practice settings in the United States. Failure to implement the evidence-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) infection prevention guidelines exposes patients to preventable harm. The guidelines establish the requirement to notify patients in cases of suspected virus transmission, as well as to screen those patients who would not otherwise have been at risk for HCV seroconversion and other bloodborne pathogens. Legal and regulatory ramifications, including state, criminal, and tort laws, hold physicians and other health care professionals accountable to use safe injection practices. This article reviews the major health risks of HCV infection, significant effects of iatrogenic infection transmission, CDC guidelines for safe injection practices, and legal regulations and ramifications designed to promote safe injection practices.

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