New CDC Guidelines Target Organ Transplant Infections; A Good Idea For Kingston And Albany, New York


The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) and the Department of Health and Human Services (“DHHS”) is releasing new public health service guidelines for reducing transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), Hepatitis B virus (HBV), and hepatitis C virus (HCV) through solid organ transplantation. Currently, the CDC is taking public comments on the draft guidelines before issuing the final version. These guidelines will not become federal or regulatory law.

According to the CDC, between 2007 and 2010 there were more than 200 cases of suspected HIV, Hep B and C transmissions through JUST transplants. Unfortunately, some of these resulted in the deaths of the organ recipients. Even more scary is that the CDC found that only half of the organ procurement organizations in the United States voluntarily tested for HIV and Hep C on all or some of the potential donors since 2008. Isn’t that scary?!

The new guidelines provide for this kind of screening for Hep C, but also Hep B in potential donors. Additionally, the guidelines seek for agencies to use more updated and modern screening tests for the organs which are to be transplanted. Moreover, the use of a revised set of donor risk factors will arm donors, recipients, and donor agencies with more information to make more educated decisions.

I think this is a great idea and much needed. Particularly because this research-unlike the OB-GYN guidelines I blogged about a week or two ago-are based on empirical, scientific information. This will certainly help eradicate some of those infections, but clearly cannot fix all. There is only so much you can do to prevent infections, and sadly, some of those infections will just come down to pure, human error; a variable we cannot fully purge. It is also important to note that guidelines are not mandatory or create liability. However, they could be evidence of medical negligence if they are not properly followed; they are just not definitive evidence of it.

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