Hepatitis testing in the emergency department (A&E)
We offer a hepatitis test to all people who need a blood test in the emergency department (A&E).
Hepatitis B and hepatitis C are viruses that cause an infection called hepatitis in the liver.
Being tested for hepatitis B and C
Some people infected with these viruses develop a long-term infection called chronic hepatitis. If left untreated, this long-term (chronic) infection can cause liver damage.
An earlier diagnosis can reduce or prevent long-term harm to the liver.
We recommend that you are tested for your safety. Many people do not realise they are have been at risk of a hepatitis infection. Symptoms can take many years (sometimes decades) to develop.
If the test is negative
A negative result means you did not have a hepatitis virus infection when we did the test. We do not contact you if your results are negative for hepatitis B and C.
If the test is positive
A positive result means that you have a hepatitis virus infection.
If your test is positive for hepatitis B or C, we phone you and ask you to come to the hospital. We then repeat the hepatitis test to confirm your diagnosis.
Sometimes the result is not clear. In this case, we must see you again to repeat the test.
Testing positive is often a shock, but it's much worse for you to live with a hepatitis virus that is not being treated. A team of hepatitis specialists care for you. They have many years of experience in managing people with these infections.
The treatment for hepatitis viruses is very safe. It allows your body to repair the damage to your liver.
The British Liver Trust gives information and support for people with hepatitis and conditions that affect the liver.
The Hepatitis C Trust supports people with hepatitis C.
Your contact details
It's important we have your correct contact details. We may need to speak with you about your test and results.
Please make sure that we have your correct contact details.
If your contact details change in the week after your test, please phone us on 020 7188 2120. We can then update your records.
Declining a test for hepatitis B and C
Many people do not realise that they have been infected with a hepatitis virus. This is why it is important for us to test everyone who comes to our emergency department.
It is always much better to have the hepatitis virus tests and check if you need treatment.
If you decide that you do not want to be tested for these viruses, please speak to a member of staff. They will make sure that we cancel your tests.
We share information on hepatitis testing with Public Health England. This helps them to reduce the risk of hepatitis in the community. If you do not want us to share your information, please tell a member of staff in the emergency department.
Resource number: 4305/VER2
Last reviewed: October 2020
Next review due: October 2023