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 21 May 2018

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News

Inadequate Hepatitis B vaccination among transplant surgeons

Many transplant surgeons are inadequately vaccinated against Hepatitis B, and fail to seek evaluation following possible exposures, reports August's issue of Annals of Surgery.

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It is unknown what proportion of transplant surgeons are appropriately vaccinated against Hepatitis B or evaluated for immunization following operative exposures.

Dr Scott Halpern and colleagues identified the proportion of US transplant surgeons who are adequately vaccinated against Hepatitis B virus.

The investigative team evaluated characteristics associated with inadequate vaccination.

The team also assessed the proportion who had been evaluated for immunization following potential Hepatitis B exposures.

The investigators mailed questionnaires to all active US transplant surgeons.

Demographic characteristics of responders and nonresponders were compared to evaluate the potential for nonresponse bias.

Of 619 eligible respondents, 56% returned completed questionnaires.

Of the 311 surgeons for whom Hepatitis B vaccination was indicated, 70 received fewer than the recommended 3 injections.

Only 5 surgeons sought serologic testing and counseling for immunization
Annals of Surgery

The team found that surgeon characteristics associated with inadequate vaccination included length of clinical practice.

Increased fear of infection, and lack of recent testing for Hepatitis B infection were also associated with inadequate vaccination.

Of the 94 surgeons reporting at least 1 needle-stick exposure while operating on Hepatitis B-infected patients, 15% were inadequately vaccinated.

Of these, the investigators noted that only 5 sought appropriate serologic testing and counseling for active immunization.

The team observed that surgeons underestimated both the risks of percutaneous exposure while operating, and of becoming infected with Hepatitis B if exposed.

Dr Halpern's team concludes, “Many transplant surgeons are inadequately vaccinated against Hepatitis B and fail to seek evaluation following possible exposures.”

“Underestimation of the risks of Hepatitis B exposure and transmission may relate to these failures.”

“Requiring documentation of Hepatitis B vaccination and immunity to maintain operating room privileges may protect surgeons, their patients, and operating room staff.”

Ann Surgery 2006: 244(2): 305-9
28 July 2006

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