HIV-Positive Doctors in Quebec To Face Increased Regulation Under New Policy Recommendations
Physicians in Quebec who have HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C will be required to follow new rules to prevent transmission of the viruses to their patients under recommendations released on Tuesday by the Quebec College of Physicians, the Montreal Gazette reports (Fidelman, Montreal Gazette, 4/28). The recommendations come after the Sainte-Justine Children's Hospital in Quebec disclosed earlier this year that Dr. Maria Di Lorenzo -- who operated on more than 2,600 patients before her death on Aug. 16, 2003 -- was HIV-positive. Although Di Lorenzo's immediate supervisor was aware of her HIV-positive status, the hospital administration said it was unaware of her status until a few weeks before her death, and Di Lorenzo continued to operate on patients until her death (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/5). None of Di Lorenzo's patients have tested HIV-positive, according to the hospital administration (CP/Montreal Gazette, 4/27).
The new recommendations require physicians infected with one or more of the viruses to have their professional medical activities periodically reviewed by an independent committee of experts in infectious diseases and the doctors' practice area. In addition, infected physicians must receive regular medical care from another doctor instead of treating themselves, according to the recommendations. However, doctors will not be required to disclose their status to their patients, according to Dr. Yves Robert, assistant general manager of the college. In addition, the college recommended that doctors' federations establish disability insurance to ensure that doctors who must stop work continue to have an income (CBC News Online, 4/28). Physicians who fail to comply with the policies could face sanctions, including fines, according to the recommendations (CP/Montreal Gazette, 4/27). The Quebec Medical Association, which is a division of the Canadian Medical Association, in February adopted similar policies for its 7,000 members (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/5).