News from Hepatitis Week of March 30, 2003 / Vol. 3 No. 13

Study: Primary Care Clinics Often Fail to Test for Hepatitis C

Primary care clinics often fail to test unsuspecting patients for hepatitis C based on the basis of risk factors identified by physicians, according to a study reported in the March issue of the American Journal of Gastroenterology

This finding confirms previous studies that care is less than optimal in such clinics for those with hepatitis C.

University of Michigan Health System researchers split study participants into three groups of 229 patients each: hepatitis C antibody-positive, hepatitis C antibody-negative and untested for hepatitis C. All of the study participants had sought care in a primary care clinic.

Only 16 percent of the antibody-positive and 10 percent of the antibody-negative group were tested for hepatitis C based on physician-identified risk factors. Only one percent of patients who were not tested for hepatitis C antibody actually discussed hepatitis C risk factors during their initial visit with a primary care physician.

"Interventions should be developed to optimize early diagnosis of hepatitis C as significant liver disease may be present despite the absence of symptoms," concluded the researchers.

Other sources: American Journal of Gastroenterology 2003;98(3):639-44