Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Notifiable Diseases and Sharing Information with Public Health

Notification of a number of specified infectious diseases is required under the Public Health (Infectious Diseases) 1988 Act and the Public Health (Control of Diseases) 1984 Act. New (amended) regulations for clinical notifications came into force on 6 April 2010.  

The notifiable diseases are: Acute encephalitis; Brucellosis; Infectious bloody diarrhoea; Meningococcal septicaemia; Scarlet fever; Whooping cough; Acute infectious hepatitis; Cholera; Invasive group A streptococcal disease; Mumps; Smallpox; Yellow fever;  Acute meningitis; Diphtheria; Legionnaires’ Disease; Plague; Tetanus.  

These and other diseases that may present significant risk to human health may be reported under Other significant disease category.Acute poliomyelitis; Enteric fever (typhoid or paratyphoid fever); Leprosy;  Rabies; Tuberculosis; Food poisoning; Malaria; Rubella; Typhus; Botulism;  Haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS); Measles; SARS; Viral haemorrhagic fever (VHF)                                           

Registered medical practitioners in England and Wales have "a statutory duty to notify a 'proper officer' of the Local Authority of suspected cases of certain infectious diseases"; usually the consultant in communicable disease control (CCDC). The GP should fill out a notification certificate immediately on diagnosis without waiting for laboratory confirmation - and ensure it gets to the officer within 3 days (phone if urgent).

The proper officers are required every week to inform the Health Protection Agency (HPA) Centre for Infections (CfI) about details of each case of each disease that has been notified.  

As well as notifications of the infectious diseases specified below, the 2010 regulations also require GPs to notify cases of "other infections or of contamination which they believe present, or could present, a significant risk to human health", e.g emerging or new infections, or cases of contamination (such as with chemicals or radiation) - particularly if there is a risk of transmission to others.

Diagnostic laboratories themselves also have a requirement to notify the HPA of specified causative agents they identify in tests on human samples.

The 2010 regulations also provide local authorities with wider and more flexible powers to deal with incidents which present, or could present, a significant risk to human health.  A proper officer or representative will make direct contact with the patient.

Notification requires the completion of the appropriate form, but notify urgent cases by phone as well (ASAP - certainly within 24 hours of any suspicions)

Details required :
  • Patient's name, date of birth, sex, and home address with postcode.
  • Patient's NHS number.
  • Ethnicity (used to monitor health equalities).
  • Occupation, and/or place of work or educational establishment if relevant.
  • Current residence (if it is not the home address).
  • Contact telephone number.
  • Contact details of a parent (for children).

  • The disease or infection, or nature of poisoning/contamination being reported.
  • Date of onset of symptoms and date of diagnosis.
  • Any relevant overseas travel history.
  • If in hospital, also:
    • Hospital address.
    • Day admitted.
    • Whether the disease was contracted in hospital. 

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