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Editor's Correspondence
April 9, 2001

Personnel-to-Patient Transmission of Hepatitis C Virus: Underestimation of Exposure

Arch Intern Med. 2001;161(7):1017-1018. doi:

We read with interest the article by Ross et al1 about the risk of personnel-to-patient transmission of hepatitis C virus (HCV) in which the authors presented model-based calculations for surgical settings. Being involved in the investigations of suspected personnel-to-patient transmissions of bloodborne pathogens and the development of national guidelines on this subject, we appreciate the development of proxy measures for risk assessment. Ross et al1 based their calculations on the following 4 determinants: A, the probability of HCV positivity in medical staff; B, the probability of percutaneous injuries; C, the probability of sharp object's recontact; and D, the rate of HCV transmission following exposure. If a surgeon is HCV RNA-positive, the risk of HCV transmission to a patient was calculated to range from 0.0062% to 0.057% resulting in 1 infection in 16 000 to 1 in 1750 invasive procedures, respectively. The worst-case calculation was based on B = 2.3%, C = 27%, and D = 9.2%.