One of my patients, who has AIDS, suffered an MI while traveling. The consulting cardiologist’s admission history and subsequent follow-up clinic notes made no mention of the AIDS. If my patient failed to disclose his AIDS status, am I obligated to inform this consultant?
It is not clear if your duty to preserve the patient’s confidentiality is greater than your duty to protect your colleague, who is presumably using universal precautions and should, at least in theory, be safe. A middle course is, perhaps, to call the cardiologist and ask if he or she wants to request a copy of the medical chart—with the patient’s consent, of course.
—David S. Starr, MD, JD (103-6)