Are Healthcare Professionals Duty-bound to Disclose They Are HIV Positive?

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“HIV- Infected Surgeon and a Duty to Disclose”
In Case 12 a doctor, Dr. M, has learned he is infected with HIV, should he disclose to his patients that he has HIV or even discontinue his practice of performing surgery on patients? In a study that was taken 2.5 times for every one hundred surgeries performed about one-third of those procedures the patient is touched with the surgeons’ blood. In the same study they have found that for every one hundred surgeries that a surgeon performs with HIV only three patients will contract HIV from the surgeon.

Dr. M does not have an obligation to refrain from performing surgery due to the low risk of contracting HIV from him and with any surgery there are risks, such as death that have to be taken into consideration. While Dr. M doesn’t have the obligation to terminate his profession of a surgeon he does hold the obligation to disclose to his patents he is HIV positive. If he discloses this to them this allows for the patent to decide whether or not to continue the procedure with him. When he discloses this information to them he will also need to provide the facts and information to them of the low risk they have of contracting the virus from him. Just as Dr. M is obligated to disclose his information of the virus he carries to his patients so does this patents hold the same responsibility to provide that information to him. The patient providing this information to their surgeon is more critical then the surgeon providing it to them for the simply fact a surgeon has more exposure to blood than a patient does.

For most patients the fear of the unknown is the worst disease of all but at times information is hard to attain. As a health care provider you should never allow the fear of not knowing what disease you have that could be passed along to your patients be in their minds. With the chosen profession of being a physician imposes a set of duties and obligations, which raise additional questions and concerns. As...
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