Hepatitis C Investigation Closed

NHS Lothian has closed its investigation into a case of hepatitis C in a patient who attended the Emergency Department at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh in July 2013.

Investigations showed that this patient was likely to have become infected through cross-contamination which occurred in the Department.  NHS Lothian has now followed up with patients who were treated in the Department at the same time. Their risk of infection was deemed to be very low but as a precaution they were offered appropriate information, advice and testing.  Of those who came forward for testing, all were found to be negative for hepatitis C.

Infection control measures in the Emergency Department have now been fully reviewed and additional measures have been put in place. The importance of hand hygiene and the risks associated with blood borne viruses have been reinforced with staff across NHS Lothian.

A dedicated NHS 24 helpline was set up to help answer any questions the public may have had about hepatitis C and the risk of blood-borne virus infection.

Dr David Farquharson, Medical Director, NHS Lothian, said: “I would like to personally thank each of the patients we contacted for the way in which they have handled this sensitive situation. It could not have been easy to hear that they were being asked to take a test and I want to pay tribute to them for bearing with us and making our job a lot easier, especially as this was during the Christmas and New Year period.

“The number of people who actually came forward for testing was very high indeed and certainly more than experience elsewhere would suggest.

“This has been a most unfortunate incident and I am confident that vital lessons have been learned as a result.”