GP reprimanded for testing patients for HIV without consent
- By: Clare Dyer
A GP in England who arranged for the blood of five patients to be tested for HIV without their consent was found guilty of serious professional misconduct and severely reprimanded by the General Medical Council last week.
Dr John Nicholls admitted that he was wrong not to seek explicit consent from the patients but said that he believed he was acting in their best interests.
Sir Donald Irvine, chairing the professional conduct committee, told him: “Such a benevolent paternalistic attitude has no place in modern medicine. Patients have certain fundamental rights, including the right to be fully involved in decisions relating to their treatment and care. This includes decisions specifically relating to the testing of samples for HIV infection.”
Dr Nicholls was also found guilty of failing to counsel the five about having the test, and of failing to give adequate counselling to another patient whose consent he had obtained.