Aids And Healthcare Workers Essay

856 words - 3 pages

The case of Doctor David Acer and his HIV infected patients reads as a question of ethical and legal dilemmas as well as a murder mystery. According to authorities, Dr. Acer either knowingly or unknowingly infected five of his patients with the strain of the AIDS virus he himself was infected with (Altman, 1993). Whether or not Dr. Acer was guilty of intentionally infecting his patients is not able to be answered beyond any reasonable doubt, however the ethical questions it presents merit discussion.
The family of a deceased victim, Miss Kimberly Bergalis, pushed for laws mandating that healthcare workers be tested for AIDS and required to tell patients of positive results (Altman, 1993). I believe this to be an unfounded and unethical request. I personally believe that healthcare workers should be entitled to the same confidentiality rights as other patients. Requiring health care workers to report HIV status to patients, would effectively end their career and livelihood. Imagine if a healthcare provider contracted HIV while treating an infected patient. The time, money, and hard work put into obtaining that career would be all for nothing. If the workers had to tell patients that they had HIV, they would have to tell the employer, and would never get hired. Would it be fair for providers to have the option to refuse treating patients based on HIV status, to protect healthcare workers? It would be considered unethical, and the proposed sanction call for this question. If a healthcare provider practices proper infection control and abides by the principle of nonmaleficence, then no issues should arise. This is an idealist viewpoint. However, it is supported by journalistic investigations of Lawrence Altman of the New York Times. In his article about Dr. Acer he states, “The late Dr. Acer is the only health care worker anywhere known to have infected even one of his patients” (Altman, 1993). He also goes on to describe that 19,000 patients of infected 57 different healthcare workers were tested following this incident, and none presented with the virus from medical treatment (Altman, 1993). If there is a need for regulations allowing a patient to know there is a possibility for HIV infection from treatment, it should be no more than a requirement for all informed consent forms to list the possibility that healthcare workers may be infected with HIV. It should also state that the risk is incredibly low.
As well as only one health care professional ever infecting a patient with HIV, it’s still unclear whether Dr. Acer accidentally or intentionally infected his patients. Sources differ in opinion when presented with the question. The Federal General Accounting Office stated that no...

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