Patients of New York Surgeon With Hepatitis C Report That They Were Never Informed of Risks
Five patients who were recently operated on by Dr. Michael Hall -- a Long Island, N.Y., cardiothoracic surgeon who is already thought to have infected at least three of his patients with hepatitis C -- say that they were never informed of his condition, despite state recommendations that doctors make a full disclosure of infection to patients, Newsday reports. Hall, the head of cardiothoracic surgery at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, said that he learned he had hepatitis C last August. Since then, he has continued to perform surgery and has "continually made a fair and honest attempt to inform his patients of the fact that he has hepatitis [and] that it can be contagious," according to Terry Lynam, director of public relations for North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System. However, five patients who have undergone surgery by Hall since August claimed that he never mentioned that he had the virus prior to their procedures. According to four of the five patients, who have since been asked by the hospital to come in for hepatitis C tests, the hospital told them that the test was part of "routine follow-up screening" after surgery and did not mention Hall's hepatitis C status. Lynam "vehemently" denied the patients' charges, saying that the hospital possessed "written documentation" indicating that Hall had apprised each patient of his condition, although Lynam said it was not clear if there was a witness present during the disclosures, as is recommended by the state. Two of the patients in question were accompanied to the presurgical consultation by their spouses and a third was accompanied by her son, and all witnesses corroborate that Hall never mentioned his hepatitis C status (Rabin, Newsday, 4/17). Hall was also sued last week by a former patient who says he was infected with hepatitis C by Hall while undergoing heart valve replacement surgery in February 2001 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/12).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.