Viral Hepatitis Transmission in Ambulatory Health Care Settings

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In the United States, transmission of viral hepatitis from health care—related exposures is uncommon and primarily recognized in the context of outbreaks. Transmission is typically associated with unsafe injection practices, as exemplified by several recent outbreaks that occurred in ambulatory health care settings. To prevent transmission of bloodborne pathogens, health care workers must adhere to standard precautions and follow fundamental infection-control principles, including safe injection practices and appropriate aseptic techniques. These principles and practices need to be made explicit in institutional policies and reinforced through in-service education for all personnel involved in direct patient care, including those in ambulatory care settings. The effectiveness of these measures should be monitored as part of the oversight process. In addition, prompt reporting of suspected health care—related cases coupled with appropriate investigation and improved monitoring of surveillance data are needed to accurately characterize and prevent health care—related transmission of viral hepatitis.

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