Updated Guidelines for Healthcare Workers with Hepatitis B

Updated Guidelines for Healthcare Workers with Hepatitis B

The CDC updated the guidelines for how facilities should manage healthcare providers with hepatitis B so as to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to patients.

The goal is to promote patient safety while providing risk management and practice guidance to HBV-infected healthcare providers and students, particularly those performing exposure-prone procedures such as certain types of surgery.

The report reaffirms "the 1991 CDC recommendation that HBV infection alone should not disqualify infected persons from the practice or study of surgery, dentistry, medicine, or allied health fields."

Updates and changes to the previous recommendations include:

  • Patients do not have to be pre-notified of their healthcare providers' HBV status
  • Use HBV DNA serum levels rather than hepatitis B e-antigen status to monitor infectivity
  • For those healthcare professionals requiring oversight, specific suggestions for composition of expert review panels and a threshold value of serum HBV DNA considered "safe" for practice

The report identifies criteria for HBV-infected providers performing exposure-prone procedures. Generally, these procedures include "major abdominal, cardiothoracic, and orthopedic surgery, repair of major traumatic injuries, abdominal and vaginal hysterectomy, cesarean section, vaginal deliveries, and major oral or maxillofacial surgery (e.g., fracture reductions)."