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Seropositive Physicians and Exposure Prone Procedures

Surgeon's gloved hand reaching for an instrument
Image: istockphoto.com

The College has clarified its requirements for physicians infected with a blood borne virus who perform or assist with exposure prone procedures (EPPs). Blood borne viruses (BBVs) refer to Hepatitis B virus (HBV), Hepatitis C virus (HCV), and/or Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).

“The College’s objective is ensuring public safety while permitting a physician to practise safely,” said Dr. Jim Wilson, a Kingston urologist and College Medical Advisor. “For a BBV positive physician with below threshold or an undetectable viral load, the risk of transmission while performing EPPs is negligible. It is therefore appropriate in these circumstances for these physicians to be able to perform EPPs,” he said.

If a seropositive physician’s viral load is below the acceptable threshold as set out in the SHEA Guideline for Management of Healthcare Workers, 2010, and they agree to participate in ongoing health monitoring, they may continue to perform EPPs.

In the event that a seropositive physician’s viral load exceeds the acceptable threshold, they will be required to enter into an undertaking restricting their practice such that they will not perform EPPs until their viral load is below the threshold.

The College’s Blood Borne Viruses policy has an updated Advice to the Profession companion document which includes this information.