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February 12, 1992

HIV-Infected Surgeons

Author Affiliations

Baylor College of Medicine Houston, Tex

JAMA. 1992;267(6):803-804. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03480060049016

To the Editor.  —The fallout from the Acer case in Florida and the newly focused congressional attention on HIV-infected health care workers has heightened the importance of the Behringer case, in which a New Jersey trial court supported a hospital's policy of restricting the surgical privileges of an HIV-infected physician. Dr Orentlicher, in a recent JAMA article,1 provides a thorough discussion of the decision and its implications for practicing physicians. He notes that the Behringer court "endorsed practice restrictions that attempt to eliminate all risk of transmission." He rightly points out that such a "standard of 'zero-tolerance' risk permits the kinds of irrational or invidious discrimination that are prohibited by principles of discrimination law."While I agree with the thesis that such a standard is inherently discriminatory to physicians and has potentially harmful implications for future public policy, the evidence does not support his contention that "there is