OBJECTIVE:

The objective of this study was to examine hospital policies and practices to prevent perinatal transmission of hepatitis B virus (HBV) in the United States and to and identify gaps.

METHODS:

In March 2006, a nationally representative sample of 242 delivery hospitals in the 50 states, District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico (with at least 100 annual births) were surveyed about hospital perinatal hepatitis B prevention policies and asked to review paired maternal–infant medical records for 25 consecutive live births. Main outcome measures were hospital policies related to the prevention of perinatal transmission of hepatitis B and the proportion of infants who received recommended care.

RESULTS:

A total of 190 of 242 hospitals responded to the survey and completed medical record reviews for 4762 mothers and 4786 infants. The proportion of hospitals that reported each of the 6 policies examined ranged from 63.0% to 80.6%. Among infants who were born to the 18 hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg)-positive women with documented prenatal test results, 62.1% received both hepatitis B vaccine and hepatitis B immunoglobulin within 12 hours, but 13.7% were unvaccinated and 19.7% did not receive hepatitis B immunoglobulin before hospital discharge. Among infants who were born to the 320 women with unknown HBsAg status, only 52.4% were vaccinated within 12 hours of birth and 20.1% were unvaccinated before discharge. Among infants who were born to HBsAg-negative mothers, 69.1% received the hepatitis B vaccine before hospital discharge. The strongest predictor of vaccine administration was having a written hospital policy for newborn hepatitis B vaccination.

CONCLUSIONS:

These findings indicate that significant gaps persist in hospital policies and practices to prevent perinatal HBV transmission in the United States. Efforts to avoid medical errors through appropriate implementation and monitoring of hospital practices are needed to eliminate perinatal HBV transmission.

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