German Man Sues Clinic for HIV Test Without Consent
February 7, 2003
In Germany, the weekly doctor's magazine Aerztezeitung reported recently that Michael Wessels, a private patient at a university hospital clinic in Munster, North Rhine-Westphalia, is suing the clinic for having given him an HIV test without his consent. Admitted to the clinic for a blood transfusion, Wessels noted on a patient consent form that he did not want an HIV test. When he discovered from his itemized bill that he had been given one anyway, he decided to take the clinic to court, charging it with bodily harm and violating his right to self-determination.Adapted from:
"A positive result would have been a catastrophe for me because I would not have had a chance to prepare myself for it," Wessels told the publication.
The clinic, which has strict rules forbidding HIV tests without proper consent, has apologized to Wessels. German law obliges doctors to obtain a patient's consent before beginning treatment, according to the Health Ministry, with the exception of incarcerated drug addicts, who undergo mandatory HIV tests to protect prison personnel.
AIDS-Help NRW, a patient support group in the area, claims university clinics routinely carry out HIV tests, even on patients who are not at high risk for the disease. Dirk Meyer, AIDS-Help manager, told Aerztezeitung he had received many complaints from patients who had been pressured to consent to HIV tests, although he noted that Wessels was the first one prepared to take legal action.