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October 18, 2000

Patient Access to Information on Clinicians Infected With Blood-Borne Pathogens

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Department of Pediatrics and Program in Medical Ethics, University of Wisconsin Medical School, Madison.

JAMA. 2000;284(15):1975-1976. doi:10.1001/jama.284.15.1975

In this issue of THE JOURNAL, Gostin1 proposes revising the national policy regarding disclosure to patients when a health care worker (HCW) is infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), or other blood-borne pathogens. The author concludes, inter alia, that HCWs should no longer be required to disclose their infection status to a patient. Moreover, the proposal suggests that there should be no restriction on an HCW's practice based solely on serologic status, and thus, there would no longer be a need for expert review panels to make judgments about such practice restrictions. The author also maintains that careful attention to infection control techniques coupled with practice restrictions for HCWs who are impaired, who have exudative lesions, or who have been involved in transmitting a blood-borne pathogen will adequately protect the public's health.