Former patients in test for hepatitis

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The Independent Online
Twenty-seven patients have been recalled to hospital for blood tests after being operated on by a doctor carrying the hepatitis B virus. The patients, from the West Midlands, had surgery between November and January. The Queen Elizabeth hospital in Birmingham has called all 27 back for tests.

Hospital officials last night played down the risks to patients called back as "minimal". No other patients are involved.

The doctor, who was a junior surgeon on a three-month contract, has been banned from doing any more operations. At the end of his contract, he underwent routine screening and was given a positive diagnosis for hepatitis B, which is transmitted through infected blood and can remain in the system for years.

Jonathan Michael, medical director of the trust running the hospital, said: "The doctor had previously received a hepatitis vaccination and he is therefore unlikely to have known he was a carrier ... the likelihood of any patient having been infected is minimal.

"The risk is almost negligible and we would encourage patients not to worry. If any patient is subsequently shown to have been infected we will immediately provide appropriate treatment."

If any patient is affected, the hospital is likely to face a sizeable compensation claim.