The Korea Herald


Refusal of surgery for HIV patient discriminatory: NHRC

By Lee Jung-Youn

Published : Sept. 26, 2022 - 16:26

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A hospital's refusal to operate on a human immunodeficiency virus-positive patient was ruled as discrimination, the state human rights watchdog said Monday.

The National Human Rights Commission of Korea announced that it had recommended the hospital, which was not named, to provide training sessions for employees about the treatment of patients with HIV and come up with measures to prevent recurrence.

Earlier in June last year, the HIV/AIDS patient filed a petition to the NHRC after the hospital refused to operate hand fracture surgery on the grounds that the patient was infected with HIV.

The NHRC ruled that it was not reasonable for the hospital to refuse surgery.

"According to Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency’s guidelines for HIV-infected people, no separate facilities or equipment are needed if only the medical employees comply with the guidelines applied to all patients,” the watchdog said.

"In this case, it is difficult to say that it was a reasonable measure to refuse the surgery scheduled for the next day and to send the patient to another hospital even though no special equipments or drugs are required," it added.

The hospital's orthopedic section chief had explained that the operating room would have to be closed for a certain period of time after operating on any HIV/AIDS patients, because the possibility of transmission cannot be ruled out right after surgery. The chief said shutting down the surgery room temporarily would be impossible as there were more than 20 surgeries scheduled for each operating theater every day at the time.

He also said it is common to recommend patients with specific chronic diseases, such as AIDS, to receive treatment at hospitals the patient attended previously, unless an emergency surgery is required.