Update to Serious Communicable Disease guidance
The GMC guidance on Serious Communicable Diseases (1997) was withdrawn on 13 November 2006. In response to a number of recent inquiries, this is a reminder that the issues covered in the 1997 guidance are dealt with in other GMC guidance or are now governed by legislation.
Current GMC advice on consent to testing can be found in Consent: patients and doctors making decisions together. Our advice on disclosure of confidential patient information to third parties (such as a person’s infection status) can be found in Confidentiality: protecting and providing information.
Decisions about testing the infection status of incapacitated patients, after a needle-stick or other injury to a healthcare worker, must take account of the current legal framework governing capacity issues and the use of human tissue. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland this area is covered by the Human Tissue Act 2004 and the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (E&W only). In Scotland this area is covered by the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000 and the Human Tissue (Scotland) Act 2006. As we understand it, current law does not permit testing the infection status of an incapacitated patient solely for the benefit of a healthcare worker involved in the patient’s care. Concerns about how best to care for healthcare workers who may have had high risk exposure to a serious communicable disease, where the patient’s infection status is not known, should be raised with local occupational health advisers, and legal advice should be sought where necessary.
Office of Public Sector Information
Human Tissue Regulations
Department of Health
Human Tissue Codes of Practice
Human Tissue Authority
Ministry of Justice
Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000 - Legislation and Codes of Practice