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.”