Letter: Health workers at risk from patients

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Sir: We write with the support of many of our colleagues in the medical profession. Much has been made in the media and by the general public about the right of patients to know the HIV status of their doctors. No one has mentioned the rights that doctors ought to have, but do not, to know the HIV status of their patients. This is despite the fact that we are far more at risk from our patients than vice versa. We work long hours and daily perform invasive procedures on patients who may well be HIV positive.

Although we take precautions, in emergency situations needle stick injuries to ourselves inevitably occur; this is particularly true in rushed specialities such as obstetrics where minutes can make a difference to the life of the foetus.

If members of the public insist on their rights to have compulsory testing of health-care workers, then, as patients, they must be prepared to be tested themselves.

Yours faithfully,

LUCY STEWART, Senior House Officer Geriatrics; NERINA BERMAN, GP trainee; JONATHAN GOLDMAN, Medical Registrar; ALISON DUNBAR, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist; PETER CLARKSON, Consultant Obstetrician; MICHAEL WILLIAMS, Consultant Surgeon

London, NW3

10 March

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