Virginia Doctor Not Liable for HIV Infection from Transfusion During Surgery
A Richmond, Va., Circuit Court jury Friday found that a physician who performed bypass surgery on a 53-year-old man was not liable for an HIV infection contracted by the patient from a tainted blood transfusion performed during the operation, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports. William Young's attorney contended that Dr. Raymond Makhoul had a responsibility to discuss the risk of HIV transmission from tainted blood enough in advance of the surgery to allow Young to donate his own blood or ask family and friends to donate. However, Duke University Chief of Vascular Surgery Dr. Richard McCann and Virginia Vascular Surgery Society President Dr. James Callis both testified that "the standard of care for Virginia physicians does not require doctors to tell patients about the possibility of contracting AIDS from surgery," and that Young's vascular problems would likely have prohibited him from donating blood. Makhoul and Young learned three months after the March 1999 operation that the donor of one of the 11 units of blood given to Young was HIV-positive, but infected so recently that HIV tests failed to detect the virus. According to testimonies, the risk of infection was between one in 400,000 and one in one million; newer HIV tests have lowered the risk to one in three million. Young, who says he is now "shunned" by friends and coworkers, originally sued Makhoul and blood supplier Virginia Blood Services for $25 million, but withdrew the suit against VBS after his lawyers found the agency protected by the doctrine of charitable immunity. Young is taking antiretroviral drugs at an expense of more than $10,000 per year to delay the onset of AIDS (Cooper, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 12/16).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.