Marlton, NJ (PRWEB) January 02, 2013
A doctor with a chronic liver infection who performed joint replacement surgeries on patients in the United States unknowingly passed the virus to at least two patients, according to NBC News. The doctor, who remains unidentified, reportedly had chronic hepatitis B “for some time” without symptoms before coming in contact with patients and unknowingly passing the disease on to them. The University of Virginia Health System tested more than 200 of the doctor’s patients, which led to the discovery of the two new infections. Both patients reportedly have a strain of hepatitis B that’s genetically identical to the strain identified in the surgeon. NBC News commented that six other patients became infected with the virus previously, but because they did not have active infections in their blood currently, researchers were unable to determine if the surgeon was responsible for the original exposure. In Philadelphia, medical malpractice lawyer Richard P. Console Jr. can’t understand how a surgeon could put his patients at risk for a life-altering disease.
“A doctor with a chronic condition like hepatitis B has no business being in the operating room,” he said. “The risk to patients is simply too high, and it appears that even following normal safety protocols was not sufficient to prevent infection. If patients been aware, would they have allowed a doctor with this type of disease to operate on them? I highly doubt it.”
The doctor apparently wore gloves during all medical procedures as required, but still managed to pass the disease onto his patients, according to reports. Researchers hypothesized that tiny tears may have developed in the gloves, which allowed the infection to pass, though the doctor would’ve also had to have an open wound at the time.
Hepatitis B is a blood-borne infection that attacks the liver. Over time, the disease can lead to hardening of the liver, liver scarring, and cancer. Those infected with the disease may not develop symptoms for years after initially contracting the virus. While NBC News stated there have only been two other instances of a surgeon passing this disease onto patients, Console argues the need for greater attention to testing.
“As a surgeon, your first duty is to the safety of patients, and that includes your own health,” he said. “Without regular screening, a doctor could potentially place hundreds of patients at risk for contracting a fatal disease. If that’s not a violation of the standard of care, I don’t know what is.”
Richard. P Console Jr. is the managing partner of Console & Hollawell P.C., a personal injury law firm advocating for accident victims in Philadelphia since 1994. The firm’s attorneys have helped numerous victims of medical malpractice – including surgical errors – obtain the compensation they deserve for their injuries.