To the editor:
I find the hospital policy regarding testing of patients at Lawrence Memorial Hospital for AIDS extremely "insensitive." The only reference to hospital personnel is that their patients will be tested if the health care provider has HIV. There is seemingly no regard for the care provider, who will never know whether the patient is the one who can infect him or her.
This is not a discussion of the probability of contracting measles or impetigo or even a nasty case of hospital-contracted staph. This disease is 100 percent fatal. Even the "Black Death" left a few survivors.
I'm sure that the hospital authorities will say that maximum security measures to prevent infection should be taken at all times. No one is perfect all of the time. Needles and scalpels slip; gloves tear. The attendant at the end of a 12- or 14-hour shift will summon a little extra caution if the infection is known.
One might assume that the only patient objecting to testing is the one who has or fears having the virus. The concern would be that proper care might be withheld. Here's where sensitivity is most appropriate. There must be assurance from the hospital that there will be no difference in care or treatment.
I know that the health professionals in my family expect to care for AIDS patients as they do all others. We have discussed it. They have, however, a healthy respect for this deadly killer. I hope the hospitals where they serve are more "sensitive" to their welfare than Lawrence Memorial is to its caregivers.