Mon, Jul 02, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Surgeon says he was not warned patient had HIV

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has launched an investigation after a surgeon wrote on Facebook that he performed surgery on a patient with HIV, but was not informed in advance, which he said exposed his team to unacceptable risk.

“So people with HIV/AIDS have a right to privacy, but medical practitioners do not have the right to be protected?” the surgeon, surnamed Hsu (徐), wrote on Saturday evening.

It was the second time he had to perform surgery on an HIV-positive patient without being warned, Hsu said, adding that he and more than a dozen medical practitioners had been put at risk of infection, but could have taken protective measures if they had known.

He said the team performed several invasive procedures, including the surgery, administering injections and changing the wound dressing, and without protective measures, all were at high risk of contracting HIV.

“Our government and the CDC have always stressed the human rights of HIV patients, so the information is not marked in the National Health Insurance database and they need to give consent before having their blood drawn,” he said. “But how is the government treating medical professionals?”

He said he felt angry and sorry for his medical team.

In response, the CDC in a statement said that under the HIV Infection Control and Patient Rights Protection Act (人類免疫缺乏病毒傳染防治及感染者權益保障條例), HIV-positive patients are obligated to provide information regarding possible sources of infection or contacts and also to inform medical personnel that they are HIV-positive.

People who do not fulfill their responsibilities under the regulation may be fined NT$30,000 to NT$150,000.

However, the regulation makes an exception for emergency situations or if the patient is in an environment where their privacy is not protected, CDC Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞) said.

An unprotected environment means being in an open space with the presence of non-medical staff or other people, Lo said.

The CDC said it has asked the local health department to find out whether the patient has broken the law.

All medical professionals are required to follow standardized protection protocols when administering treatment to any patient and they should not be at risk of HIV infection if they follow the guidelines, the CDC said.

People who might have been exposed to HIV in the line of duty, such as police, firefighters or medical practitioners, will immediately have their blood tested and be given post-exposure prophylaxis if a risk evaluation requires it, the CDC said.

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