AMA Journal of Ethics®

Illuminating the art of medicine

Journal of Ethics Header

AMA Journal of Ethics®

Illuminating the art of medicine

Virtual Mentor. December 2009, Volume 11, Number 12: 958.

The Code Says

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AMA Code of Medical Ethics Opinions on Physicians with Infectious Diseases

Overview of Opinion 9.13 and Opinion 9.131 of the AMA Code of Medical Ethics on opinions on physicians with infectious diseases.

Opinion 9.13—Physicians and Infectious Diseases

A physician who knows that he or she has an infectious disease, which if contracted by the patient would pose a significant risk to the patient, should not engage in any activity that creates a significant risk of transmission of that disease to the patient. The precautions taken to prevent the transmission of a contagious disease to a patient should be appropriate to the seriousness of the disease and must be particularly stringent in the case of a disease that is potentially fatal.

Opinion 9.131—HIV-Infected Patients and Physicians

A physician may not ethically refuse to treat a patient whose condition is within the physician’s current realm of competence solely because the patient is seropositive for HIV. Persons who are seropositive should not be subjected to discrimination based on fear or prejudice.

When physicians are unable to provide the services required by an HIV-infected patient, they should make appropriate referrals to those physicians or facilities equipped to provide such services.

A physician who knows that he or she is seropositive should not engage in any activity that creates a significant risk of transmission of the disease to others. A physician who has HIV disease or who is seropositive should consult colleagues as to which activities the physician can pursue without creating a risk to patients.

Based on the report, Ethical Issues in the Growing AIDS Crisis.