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Donyell M
As a doctor, my patient has contracted aids. He has decided not to disclose this information to him wife.?
His wife knows that her husband was experiencing come problems and had gone in for testing. She has been calling my office and wants to know what the results of the test were because she knows her husband is being vague. What should I do? If I do not tell her, I feel that I am endangering her life. If I do tell her I am breaking my doctor/patient rights.

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i think that you should ask your colleagues or someone in your field. i know that intentionally allowing someone to contract aids is a felony but he would have to do that for it to be a crime, and you would only be in a position to testify against him (worst case scenario). if you see him again you could try telling him that she has been calling and she must know something is wrong. it is better for him to come clean but not really better for you.

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i think she should know that her husband has asked to keep the info private and she will probably figure it out from there

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I would encourage your patient to tell his wife because 3 people's lives are already being "infected" with dishonesty.
If he is not willing, I would turn this over to a board of doctors who have first hand knowledge in this type of situation. Preferably a psychiatrist.

You shouldn't have to suffer too at the sake of your patient. He needs to reveal the truth to his wife. She may be fine and this is only hurting the 3 of you.

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Ava D
for some reason I highly doubt that u r a doctor. Im more likely to believe that u r the patient trying to cover up his identity in order to ask the question, will my wife find out. Yes the doctor is able to tell your wife, sir.

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old and ugly
Just as your conversations with your patient are confidential, what he discusses with his wife is none of your business. You can feel bad or violate your oath. It's your call.

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Chris K
In most countries I think there are laws to cover situations such as this. If you do not notify someone and you are aware that he has AIDS and will definitely not be telling her and continuing to have intercourse, you may be in legal trouble as well as him.

I would recommend that you contact a lawyer immediately for guidance!

There have been several cases in the press of people with AIDS being prosecuted for knowingly having unprotected sex without notifying their partners.

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it's an interesting question, i do not believe you are a doctor because a doctor would not come on to Yahoo Answers asking about something like this of a bunch of teenagers. There are laws dealing with this. But still, it's an interesting question.

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I'm a little surprised that you wouldn't know this as a doctor. You can not reveal any information to the spouse without the consent of the patient. However, you are required to report this information to your local health department. The health department will send notification to any known sexual partners of this person. HIV status is protected under Federal law, but disclosure is required to sexual partners.

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Telling her that he has aids would be breaking hippa. You could get in some serious trouble that way. I'd call the pt. and tell him what's going on and that his wife is asking, and then I'd suggest that he tell her what's going on or see if he wants you to be the one to tell her if he's worried about it. Whatever you do, DO NOT tell her w/o his permission!

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I do not think you are a Doctor.Sorry,but somehow I have the feeling that you are the patient who has AIDS.If that is the case tell your wife about it.She deserves to know.

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If she were to contract it then she could sue her husband if she wanted too.

isn't there a law saying you HAVE to tell your sexual partners what you have an STD or AIDS?

maybe i'm wrong, but i swear i've heard that before.

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peter h
being a doctor you can not tell anyboby but as a gay man i have talked a lot about this in gay bars and clubs and we feel that the partners have a right to no if there health is at risk

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Tough situation.

I'm sorry so many uneducated people are putting their two cents in without knowing the laws...just saying what they think is right, and judging you based on that. It's no skin off their nose if you lose your job, or are sued, or if a life is saved, etc.

Good luck with whatever you decide.

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Ask a lawyer if you're really that worried.

My intuition is this: I know that under Canadian law, he'd be committing a criminal offence if he had unprotected sex with her without telling her. Otherwise, he has no legal obligation to do so. Now, if you know that he's planning to have unprotected sex with her without advising her of his condition, then it's possible that this would give you an excuse (or possibly even an obligation) to disclose. Otherwise, you'd have to maintain confidentiality.

In your shoes, I might suggest to the wife that if she's so concerned, she might consider getting tested herself...

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This sounds like a hypothetical ethical problem for a course you are taking.

You can't tell divulge this information to the wife, and her life has already been endangered if the patient has had HIV long enough to develop AIDS. You would have had to report the patient's diagnosis to Public Health. They would then begin an epidemiology investigation and track down his contacts - anyone he might have infected or who might have infected him. His wife would be included. Even public health would not be able to tell his wife the name of your patient, they would just say "someone who has tested HIV positive has listed you as a contact, and you'll need to be tested". That's that.

*Edit - whomever gave me a "thumbs down" has obviously never worked in the Public Health system. A doctor's duty is to report communicable disease and let the local branch of Pub. Health contact those who might be at risk.

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I don't know the answer from a doctor's standpoint, but I know in some, if not all, states, he will be charged with a crime if he has "relations" with her, and doesn't devulge his HIV status. That being said, you are playing with people's lives, and if a doctor doesn't tell a wife in that situation, license or not, lawsuit or not, he isn't a decent human being.

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It is confidential between a patient and the doctor. I would just tell her that you can not discuss that with her and hope's she understands. I would stress that she needs to find out from him.

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Tell him that it is his duty to tell his wife. She has the right to find out from him.

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The laws vary by state but there doesn't seem to be an overall protocol search aids disclosure doctor and the name of the state you are in with google.

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Read this...it give some insight to a very similar issue.


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tickled blue
IS it not against the law for him to withhold this information from her? I know most states have laws that require him to tell his partners.....I would check with your state.
EDIT: found the info: if he won't tell her, here are the steps to take...you must take further action.
Physicians must make all efforts to convince HIV/AIDS patients to take action to notify all partners (sexual and/or injection drug) about their exposure and potential infection. Physicians must be competent to counsel patients about the options for notifying partners.
These options should include:

notification of the partner(s) by the patient. In this case, the patient should receive counselling regarding the information that must be provided to the partner and strategies for delivering it with sensitivity and in a manner that is easily understood. A timetable for notification should be established and the physician should follow-up with the patient to ensure that notification has occurred.
notification of the partner(s) by a third party. In this case, the third party must make every effort to protect the identity of the patient.

When all strategies to convince the patient to take such action have been exhausted, and if the physician knows the identity of the patient's partner(s), the physician is compelled, either by law or by moral obligation, to take action to notify the partner(s) of their potential infection. Depending on the system in place, the physician will either notify directly the person at risk or report the information to a designated authority responsible for notification. In cases where a physician must disclose the information regarding exposure, the physician must:

inform the patient of his or her intentions,
to the extent possible, ensure that the identity of the patient is protected,
take the appropriate measures to protect the safety of the patient, especially in the case of a female patient vulnerable to domestic violence.

Regardless of whether it is the patient, the physician or a third party who undertakes notification, the person learning of his or her potential infection should be offered support and assistance in order to access testing and treatment.

National Medical Associations should develop guidelines to assist physicians in decision-making related to notification. These guidelines should help physicians understand the legal requirements and consequences of notification decisions as well as the medical, psychological, social and ethical considerations.

National Medical Associations should work with governments to ensure that physicians who carry out their ethical obligation to notify individuals at risk, and who take precautions to protect the identity of their patient, are afforded adequate legal protection.

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You have got to be kidding me.

First you are not a doctor. Any physician would know exactly what to do and sure as hell wouldn't come in here for advice. Duh.

Your sentence structure is horrible, too.

If you wanted to suggest this scenario, just suggest it. Don't make like you are having a medical ethics crisis.

To answer your question: A physician is bound by the doctor-patient privilege (NOT "doctor patient rights," as there IS no such thing) to maintain privacy. Period.

There is a system of reporting and notification, and the physician is not the one to notify anybody.

The only way this information can be released to a spouse by the physician would be in the event the patient had indicated on the chart initially that it was okay to discuss matters with the spouse.

Further, the spouse who allegedly "has been calling" would have been told the on the first call that no information would be released.

Now, all that said, you have the information and it's time for you to get a life. At least work on being a better liar.

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evnthough you could lose you licence i believe its worth it to save the life of another. its the right thing ot do

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Girlie Girl
It doesn't sound like you are a doctor or you would know the law however,perhaps you're the patient or it's friend. But who cares, good luck to anyone who has it I worked with lots of AIDS patients and many have good long lives.
after years in the medical field I can tell you that you are supposed to contact people who have been with someone who is HIV positive. But usually this in the case of calling an anonymous partner in the case of a spouse read the following.

Your HIV test is private. Generally, for another person to lawfully reveal your HIV test results to anyone else, that
person must have your written consent to do so. However,
your signed consent is not required to disclose your HIV
test results to:


"12. Anyone with whom you had sexual contact or shared needles,
IF the disclosure is made by your doctor. This is OPTIONAL, and
not required, for your doctor, but if your doctor CHOOSES to tell,
he must do so using the HIV Partner Notification Program. However,
if you die, your doctor may inform known sexual and needle-sharing
partners directly. Consult with an attorney (see the Resources
chapter) for more information about the exceptions to HIV

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If you're asking a question like that, I doubt you're actually a doctor.
If he has Aids & has progressed to the point where he is having visible health issues, don't you think he's already exposed his wife?

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If you are a doctor, you have a lawyer. Ask her.

If you are the guy with AIDS who has been cheating on his wife, you have a legal, moral and ethical obligation to tell her.

The Centers for Disease Control require that a doctor who's patient has HIV &/or AIDS inform all the known sexual partners of the patient.

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george p
You need to convince him that he must tell his wife. You need to explain the dangers and the reason why he must tell his wife. Obviously, his wife needs to be tested too. If he refuses, then I would tell him he needs to find a different doctor and send his wife an anonymous tip...maybe the test results in a big obvious envelop addressed to him (but when she sees it, she'll open it).

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Seems to me that if you're legit, as a Doc, then you can fairly easily find the ethical thing to do by contacting the AMA.

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Go ahead and tell her if you want to be sued and lose your license to practice.

Pook, That law requires the partners to tell each other, not the doctors.

Everyone that is saying it is illegal not to tell them is only half right. It is illegal for someone with the disease to not tell his partner. It isn't illegal for the doctor to not tell people. In fact it is the exact opposite. The doctor cannot discuss anything about his/her patient without consent. It, in fact, would be immoral for the doctor to do otherwise, even in this dire situation. To even hint at it would be morally questionable.

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Sorry Bud...any "Doctor" worth his License knows the answer to this!

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Dr., communicable diseases have to be reported.

Los Angles Times, July 5, 2006.
California justices rule that those who don't inform their partners of previous relationships can be liable for transmitting diseases.

New York Times, May 21, 2008
In a 1984 opinion in a herpes case, a California appellate court acknowledged that while rulings on bedroom behavior infringed the right to privacy, public-health-policy concerns loomed larger. Courts have decided that if someone is infected, aware of it and sexually active, that person has a duty to inform a partner, who by extension, has a right to know.

Law Digest: United States Doctor Patient Confidentiality
In recent years, many courts have held that doctors also owe duties to protect non-patients who may be harmed by patients. For example, without a patient's permission or knowledge, doctors may warn others or the police if the patient is mentally unstable, potentially violent, or has threatened a specific person. In some states, the duty to report or warn others "trumps" the right to confidentiality or privileged communication with a doctor. Courts will decide these matters by balancing the sanctity of the confidentiality against the foreseeability of harm to a third party.
Duty to Warn Others of Medical Conditions

Under most state statutes, doctors and healthcare providers generally have duties to report incidence of certain sexually transmitted diseases, child abuse, communicable diseases, HIV/AIDS, or other conditions deemed to be risks to the health and safety of the public at large. Some states have developed registries to track the incidence of certain conditions, (e.g., certain forms of cancer) that may later help researchers discover causes. In registry cases, personal data about the patients are released only to the necessary local, state, or federal personnel, and the data usually do not contain "patient identifiers."

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