Health Care Analysis

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 67–85

Rights and Duties of HIV Infected Health Care Professionals

Article

Abstract

In 1991, the CDC recommended that health care workers (HCWs) infectedwith HIV or HBV (HbeAg positive) should be reviewed by an expert paneland should inform patients of their serologic status before engaging inexposure-prone procedures. The CDC, in light of the existing scientificuncertainty about the risk of transmission, issued cautiousrecommendations. However, considerable evidence has emerged since 1991suggesting that we should reform national policy. The data demonstratesthat risks of transmission of infection in the health care setting areexceedingly low. Current policy, moreover, does not improve patientsafety. At the same time, implementation of current national policy atthe local level poses significant human rights burdens on HCWs.Consequently, national policy should be changed to ensure patient safetywhile protecting the human rights of HCWs. This article proposes a newnational policy, including: (1) a program to prevent bloodborne pathogentransmission; (2) a responsibility placed on infected HCWs to promotetheir own health and well-being and to assure patient safety; (3) adiscontinuation of expert review panels and special restrictions forexposure-prone procedures; (4) a discontinuation of mandatorydisclosure of a HCW's inflection status; and (5) the imposition ofpractice restrictions if a HCW is unable to practice safely because of aphysical or mental impairment or failure to follow careful infectioncontrol techniques. A new national policy, focused on management of theworkplace environment and injury prevention, would achieve high levelsof patient safety without discrimination and invasion of privacy.

health care professionals HBV HCV HIV infected privacy rights risk 

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Georgetown University; Professor of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University; Director, Center For Law and the Public's HealthUSA.
  2. 2.Washington, D.CU.S.A.

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