Written Answers. - Health Care Workers.

Michael Noonan

Question:

106 Mr. Noonan (Limerick East) asked the Minister for Health if he will give assurances to patients who were treated by a doctor who suffered from hepatitis in certain health board hospitals; the results of his Department's inquiry into the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [570/94]

Michael Noonan

Question:

139 Mr. Noonan (Limerick East) asked the Minister for Health if a code of practice exists in respect of doctors and other medical staff serving in hospitals who suffer from contagious diseases; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [569/94]

Desmond J. O'Malley

Question:

159 Mr. O'Malley asked the Minister for Health the investigations, if any, he has undertaken to determine whether a person (details supplied), who was jailed in England for endangering patients lives by continuing to operate when he had contacted Hepatitis B, worked in Irish hospitals; if so, the hospitals he worked in; if this person had contacted hepatitis B before or while he worked in Irish hospitals; if he infected any patients; if so, the number of patients infected; the efforts being made to trace them; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [929/94]

Charles Flanagan

Question:

228 Mr. Flanagan asked the Minister for Health the steps, if any, he proposes to take in order to ensure, where possible, that non-national health workers serving in Ireland have received appropriate hepatitis vaccination; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [718/94]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 106, 139, 159 and 228 together. It has been my Department's policy since 1988 that all health care staff who have contact with blood should be vaccinated against hepatitis B. These include staff working in accident and emergency; haemotology-oncology; operating theatres.

As regards the recent case of the person infected with hepatitis B, I have asked the appropriate authorities of the hospitals in which this person is alleged to have worked to confirm whether or not he worked in that hospital; to indicate the date the hospital commenced hepatitis B vaccination of health care workers and if this person's hepatitis B status was known. The hospital authorities have also been asked to identify the capacity in which the person worked. If it should emerge that any patients were put at risk they will be contacted for testing and other follow-up procedures.

My Department's chief medical officer has also contacted his colleague in the UK to establish when the person developed hepatitis B.

The Medical Council's "Guide to Ethnical Conduct and Behaviour and to Fitness to Practice" stipulates that doctors suffering from contagious-infectious diseases should put themselves in the hands of their professional colleagues for treatment and counselling and for advice on how far it is necessary for them to limit their professional practice in order to protect their patients. It is clearly unethical for doctors who consider that they might be infected with a serious contagious disease not to seek diagnostic testing.