1Advanced Trainee in Old Age Psychiatry, 58416Western New South Wales Local Health District, NSW, Australia.
2Associate Professor, 4334The University of SydneySchool of Rural Health, Orange, NSW, Australia.
3Consultant Psychiatrist, 58416Western New South Wales Local Health District, NSW, Australia.
4Senior Research Officer, School of Rural Health, 4334The University of Sydney, Orange, NSW, Australia.
Objectives: Current guidelines recommend routine Hepatitis C virus (HCV) monitoring in people with serious mental illness. We sought to determine the rates at which doctors practising in inpatient psychiatry units monitor the HCV exposure risk and HCV infection status of their patients.
Methods: Electronic medical records (EMRs) of 50 short stay and 50 long stay mental health inpatients of a regional NSW hospital were retrospectively audited to determine the rates at which doctors screened for HCV and associated risk factors. Chi-squared analysis and Fisher's exact test were performed to compare the two groups.
Results: Screening rates for HCV-associated risk factors varied according to the specific risk factor explored (prior incarceration 61%; intravenous drug use 55%; and tattoos/piercings 6%). Of 30 patients identified as having at least one HCV-associated risk factor, only 27% (n = 8) were tested for HCV during their admission, and the likelihood of testing was significantly higher in the long stay group. HCV infection status was documented for only one-third (34%) of patients.
Conclusions: There is significant scope for improvement in assessing HCV status and exposure risk in this setting. Improved awareness among mental health professionals as to the higher incidence of HCV in this population could elicit more widespread monitoring.