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July 25, 1990

Physicians and the Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome

Author Affiliations

American Society of Law and Medicine Boston, Mass

American Society of Law and Medicine Boston, Mass

JAMA. 1990;264(4):452-453. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03450040040016

To the Editor.—  I have written about,1 and given careful thought to, the issues posed by Gerbert et al2 on the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected physician. Should physicians be required to disclose to their patients that they are infected with HIV? The law of informed consent requires disclosure of material risks to patients. However, the risk of transmission from physician to patient is so remote that the law ought not to require disclosure. A physician could not realistically continue to practice medicine when patients in the community know of his or her infection.Should infected physicians be restricted in the practice of medicine? There are at least 14 court cases where health care professionals have been excluded from their practices by hospitals or physician partnerships.3 Patients cannot be assured a risk-free hospital environment. Provided the risks are remote, and rigorous precautions are used, infected physicians should be