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Providers' Refusal to Be Tested for Hepatitis C Stymies New York Probe
The refusal of some health care providers to be
tested for hepatitis C after a man was stricken with the virus shortly
after undergoing heart surgery at New York's St. Francis Hospital has
stymied state investigators seeking to trace the source of his
Although seven members of the surgical team,
including the surgeon, agreed to the testing and were found not to have
the virus, four other providers involved in the patient's care refused
to be tested.
The patient, a 42-year-old father of two, is
undergoing a grueling regimen of hepatitis treatment that produces
severe mood swings and extreme fatigue.
The case highlights the controversial issue of
whether health care workers should be routinely screened for the virus.
In New York, providers cannot be forced into testing even if questions
"If we want to protect against transmission, we
should require testing for all infectious diseases," Art Caplan,
director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania,
told the newspaper Newsday.
But if infected professionals are to be barred
from engaging in high-risk practices, we have to offer them
compensation," Caplan said. "If not, they won't tell. ... They will lie
and move through the health care system forever."
New York health officials have not found any
other similar cases among former St. Francis Hospital heart patients.
However, an investigation is underway regarding 13 hepatitis cases
linked to open heart surgery performed by Dr. Michael Hall at North
Shore University Hospital-Manhasset over almost a decade.