Journal Article

Infection control of hepatitis C in Dutch dialysis centres.

P M Schneeberger, N Toonen, I Keur and H W van Hamersvelt

in Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation

Volume 13, issue 12, pages 3037-3040
Published in print December 1998 | ISSN: 0931-0509
Published online December 1998 | e-ISSN: 1460-2385 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ndt/13.12.3037
Infection control of hepatitis C in Dutch dialysis centres.

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BACKGROUND: In dialysis patients, blood transfusions and long-term dialysis are well-known risk factors for transmission of hepatitis C virus (HCV). Transmission of HCV by transfusions has become extremely rare since the introduction of antibody screening. However, nosocomial transmission of HCV within dialysis units still occurs. We performed a survey of current infection control measures against HCV in Dutch dialysis centres that had participated in a national HCV prevalence study. METHODS: All twenty-seven Dutch dialysis centres where HCV-positive patients had been identified (HCV prevalence 1-8%), participated. With the use of a questionnaire we evaluated screening procedures for resident patients and guest patients, routine hygienic measures in HCV-positive and -negative patients, and cleaning procedures of dialysis equipment. RESULTS: All centres except one screened new patients for HCV antibodies, but the frequency of periodic follow-up screening varied. Most centres requested HCV antibody screening of guest patients in advance, but in daily practice 55% of the centres dialysed guest patients even when HCV antibody status was not available. The majority of centres had not implemented special precautions for patients with unknown HCV antibody status. In most centres the use of protective glasses, masks and aprons depended on the HCV antibody status of the patients. Surprisingly, 85% of the centres allowed their nurses to operate dialysis machines with gloves possibly blood contaminated. All centres sterilized their machines at the end of the day, but only 77% sterilized their machines between all dialysis sessions. Traces of blood were removed with alcohol in 63% of the centres. CONCLUSION: Dutch dialysis centres have not yet implemented an optimal policy for prevention of HCV. Especially, operating dialysis machines with gloves might be a potential source for nosocomial transmission of HCV, not yet covered by the issued guidelines. Because dialysis patients probably have a prolonged serological window phase after a recent HCV infection, it does not suffice to implement a preventive strategy against nosocomial transmission based on the results of HCV antibody screening. Universal, rigorous implementation of adequate infection control measures irrespective of HCV antibody status should be the cornerstone for prevention of nosocomial transmission of HCV and other blood borne pathogens.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Nephrology

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