HC Deb 22 June 1999 vol 333 cc318-9W
Miss Widdecombe

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement regarding the safety of medical appliances in respect of the transmission of CJD. [86030]

Ms Jowell

Measures are in place to minimise the risk of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease of any type in known and suspect sufferers being passed on to other patients via surgical instruments. These are set out in the joint guidance of the Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens and the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee published in April 1998 entitled "Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies: safe working and the prevention of infection". This guidance says that no instruments used on a known or suspect patient, whatever the procedure, should be re-used. In addition, for patients regarded as potentially at risk of CJD (for example recipients of human pituitary derived growth hormones), instruments used in procedure involving brain, spinal cord or eye cannot be re-used. This is kept under constant review and new findings are assessed as a matter of priority.

We have commissioned research into ways of detecting proteins on surfaces and improving decontamination and inactivation techniques. Meanwhile, current procedures give a high degree of protection and people should not be deterred from undergoing surgery where this is clinically necessary. The benefit to the patient must be weighed against any theoretical risk from CJD.

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