Quebec Medical Association Adopts Policy Requiring Doctors To Disclose HIV Status to Immediate Supervisors
The Quebec Medical Association has adopted a policy requiring HIV-positive doctors to disclose their status to employers, Dr. Andre Senikas of the association said on Wednesday, CP/Yahoo! News reports (Levesque, CP/Yahoo! News, 2/4). The policy comes after the Sainte-Justine Children's Hospital disclosed two weeks ago that Dr. Maria Di Lorenzo -- who operated on more than 2,600 patients before her death on Aug. 16, 2003 -- was HIV-positive. Di Lorenzo in 1991 informed her immediate supervisor of her HIV-positive status, and a committee was formed to determine what medical work she could perform. However, the hospital had no written follow-ups on Di Lorenzo after 1996. Although Di Lorenzo's immediate supervisor was aware of her HIV-positive status, the hospital administration said that it was unaware of her status until a few weeks ago and that Di Lorenzo continued to operate on patients until her death (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/26). Under the new policy, all HIV-positive physicians must inform their immediate supervisors of their status and meet with a committee of experts to develop an internal policy. The policy must include provisions for tracking the doctors over many years, including regular updates as technology changes. Each policy must take into account the risks of the procedures performed by the physician and must develop specific precautions. The Quebec Medical Association, which is a division of the Canadian Medical Association, has 7,000 members (CP/Yahoo! News, 2/4).
Hospital Tests 1,500 Former Patients
Since Sainte-Justine Hospital made public Di Lorenzo's HIV-positive status, the hospital has performed HIV tests on more than 1,500 people on whom she operated between 1990 and 2003, the Canadian Press reports (Canadian Press, 2/3). Hospital officials have said the chance that any children contracted HIV from operations is extremely small (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/26). The hospital sent registered letters to the families of 2,614 patients on whom the doctor operated, and more than 11,500 people have called the hospital since Di Lorenzo's status was announced. The hospital was unsure how it would notify patients whom it has been unable to contact thus far, according to the Canadian Press. Hospital spokesperson Sylvie Tessier said that she was unable to disclose the results of the tests because of doctor-patient confidentiality laws, the Canadian Press reports. However, some news reports have quoted hospital officials as saying that no patients have tested positive (Canadian Press, 2/3). Because this is the first time a hospital has conducted a "callback campaign" after discovering that an HIV-positive surgeon operated on children, hospital directors are planning a peer review of the process for publication in a medical journal, Tessier said. Lawyer Jean-Pierre Menard is investigating the possibility of filing a class-action lawsuit on behalf of 40 of the affected families, according to the Montreal Gazette (Bruemmer, Montreal Gazette, 2/4).