Doctor With AIDS Reinstated
CHICAGO (AP) _ Over the objections of the medical director of Cook County Hospital, a doctor with AIDS was temporarily reinstated Wednesday to his clinical duties.
The doctor, whose name and duties have not been released, was suspended Monday after the man refused a transfer to duties with less patient contact.
The hospital’s peer review committee and medical staff board decided the doctor was a ″minimum risk to patients,″ said Dr. Agnes D. Lattimer, medical director at the hospital.
However, she said, she still believes that ″public fear will hurt the hospital and we must first and foremost protect patients.″
The final decision will be made by the Cook County Board, a local governing body which runs the hospital, she said.
Lattimer said the reinstated doctor will follow federal guidelines developed by the Centers for Disease Control recommending that health-care workers with AIDS be required to wear gloves and to be barred from performing procedures such as surgery or drawing blood.
Dr. Bernard J. Turnock, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, criticized on Wednesday the government board’s decision to suspend the doctor and the call by Cook County Board President George Dunne to test all hospital personnel for AIDS.
″We’re very strongly alarmed by both of those actions because it really gets out exactly the wrong message as to what AIDS is and how it’s spread,″ he said in a telephone interview from Springfield.
Turnock notes that the CDC has no reported case of a doctor or other health-care worker transmitting the AIDS virus to a patient or vice versa.
Another doctor at Cook County Hospital who was diagnosed as having AIDS left the hospital last year and has since died, officials reported earlier this week.
In addition, officials revealed that a third doctor and two nursing employees at the hospital had been diagnosed as having AIDS.
AIDS, or acquired immune deficiency syndrome, is a fatal disease that cripples the body’s immune system. It is caused by a virus believed to be passed through blood or semen.