The affected healthcare worker should be tested for the presence of hepatitis C, as well. If the source patient is not infected, then no further evaluation of the affected healthcare worker is needed.
If the source patient is positive for hepatitis C or if the hepatitis C status is unknown, the healthcare worker should be tested for anti- hepatitis C antibodies within 48 hours of the exposure.13 If the antibody test is positive, the worker should be tested for hepatitis C RNA; if the RNA test is positive at that time the healthcare worker has a pre-existing hepatitis C infection. If the initial hepatitis C RNA test is negative, a re-test should be done at least three weeks later. If this is negative, no more testing is needed. If it is positive, a hepatitis C infection is present.
If the antibody test is negative, a test for hepatitis C RNA should be done at least three weeks later; a positive test confirms an infection.13 Donation of blood, organs, plasma, semen, and tissue should not be done before the hepatitis C status has been determined. The need for tetanus vaccination should also be considered.