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Orthopaedic Surgeon refuse to perform surgery on me
Dec 11, 2009

Dear Dr. Frascino - I went to an orthopaedic surgeon a few months ago who diagnosed me with a bone spur and 2 torn tendons in my shoulder. When I disclosed my HIV status to him, he refused to perform surgery on me. Is this illegal? I live in NH. Thank you.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

Although there may be some loopholes in the law, the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) states it is illegal to discriminate against HIV-positive people. This includes refusing to treat HIV patients based on the fear of transmission to the health care worker. In addition to most likely being illegal, this physician's behavior is certainly highly unethical. You could report the incident to the Board of Medical Quality Assurance (the state agency that issues and maintains medical licenses). By the way, even if forced, this is not the kind of guy you want to be your surgeon (or friend or colleague)! Perhaps cosmic karma will come along some day and make him the brunt of some vile discriminatory behavior. He's certainly the type of person who should have never been granted a medical license! Find a more competent and compassionate orthopedic surgeon for your procedure. Then file a formal complaint with the hospital where Dr. Discrimination operates. Your local branch of AIDS Legal Services or your local AIDS service organization may be of help in resolving the issue legally and publicizing the incident so others will know exactly what type of prejudice this physician is practicing!

Good luck.

Dr. Bob



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