An Irish surgeon has successfully sued his former hospital, the Health Service Executive (HSE) and the Irish state after contracting the HIV virus from patients, which ended her career.
Having become sick with a flu-like illness, he was diagnosed with HIV in May 1997. The doctor told the court that his life “stopped that day.”
After he was diagnosed he had to give up his duties as a senior surgical registrar immediately. He said that at the time he was close to becoming a consultant surgeon.
At the time he and his wife were not ready to have children, and now the HIV virus has closed this option to him. He said the virus had caused him and his wife a great deal of distress and altered their plans for the future. The former surgeon says he lives in fear of infecting his wife.
The couple had expected that he would have a successful career. His wife is now the main breadwinner.
Since contracting the virus he has suffered from tiredness, lethargy and depression. The combination triple therapy has also substantially altered his lifestyle and caused nausea, upset and trauma.
The doctor claimed that the lack of a mandatory screening of patients for HIV exposed him to a risk of harm.
The defense said it did not implement the test as it was “uneconomical,” and that patients suspected of being infected were asked if they were infected.
As a result of a needle-stick the surgeon contracted the HIV virus. It was contracted while he was tending to a patient. His virus was not diagnosed for three months.
During this time he operated on over 100 patients using sharp implements, screws, saws and chisels. He claims there was massive potential for contamination.
The legal action was initiated in 1999 and was adjourned a number of times before the hearing on Wednesday. In the High Court Mr. Justice Nicholas Kearns was told that the case had been settled.