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Shouldn't HIV+ Surgeons Be Banned?
Aug 19, 1997

Sir, shouldn't HIV+ surgeons not be allowed to perform surgery, since even w/ the proper precautions, the chances of him cutting himself and bleeding into the patient during surgery is very high, what w/ thin gloves and sharp instruments.

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi. Thank you for your question. In all truth, it would be very unusual for a patient to be exposed to the blood of a surgeon, or any healthcare worker for that matter. In fact, it is usually the patient putting the surgeon at risk of bloodborne diseases, not the other way around. The surgeon (and other healthcare workers like dentists and nurses) are often exposed to the blood of their patients. But it would be very unusual for the patient to be exposed to the blood of a healthcare worker (even a surgeon). Therefore, there is no need to ban all HIV positive surgeons (and all HIV positive healthcare workers) from practice. Presently, the decision on whether an HIV positive healthcare worker (including surgeons) should continue to work or not, is taken on a case-by-case basis. Realistically, since the chances of a patient being exposed to the blood of a healthcare worker (including surgeons) are very remote, a ban on HIV positive surgeons is unnecessary in the vast majority of circumstances. Remember, the patient is putting the surgeon at much greater risk of infection, than the surgeon is putting the patient.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to call the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide).



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