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Scientists caution against disclosure of HIV/AIDS, cancer, other patients’ status

By Osiberoha Osibe, Awka
03 December 2021   |   3:05 am
Pathology and forensic scientists have cautioned medical laboratory scientists against disclosing the status of Human Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome

PHOTO: AFP

Pathology and forensic scientists have cautioned medical laboratory scientists against disclosing the status of Human Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS), cancer and another health status of patients, no matter the pressure on them to do so.

They raised the concern, yesterday, after the 2021 Annual Scientific Conference and Investiture of Ninth Elected President of the Anambra State wing of the Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria (AMLSN), Ikenna Anahalu, in Awka with the theme: Quality Medical Laboratory Service and Practice in Community Health.

Guest Lecturer and Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), Prof. Peter Achukwu, who noted that forensic examination could not work without laboratory diagnosis and analysis to identify culprits, said the law that medical scientists should not go ahead with the test without the consent of patients had become obsolete.

He urged medical laboratory practitioners to advise patients appropriately and warned against mixing up legality and morality by disclosing the health status of patients without their consent after laboratory tests, even in life-threatening conditions.

Achukwu lamented the practice of subsuming medical laboratory science under pathology and non-inclusion in Forensic Sciences, DNA tests, investigation of crime, forensic accounting examinations and fingerprint analysis, adding that evidence necessary for unravelling murder, rape cases and other criminal activities, were crucial.

In a paper titled: Application of Medical Jurisprudence in Strengthening Good Laboratory Practice (GLP): The Realities and Future Prognosis, Assistant Director, Medical Laboratory Sciences Department, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital (NAUTH), Nnewi, Anambra State, Dr. Dorothy Ezeagwuna, said unlike in Nigeria, western jurisdictions showcases of recorded and adjudicated medical negligence as malpractices.

Ezeagwuna pointed out that medical laboratory scientists carry out their patients’ individual needs and overall welfare at all times, adding: “These include patients’ right to freedom of choice in healthcare provider, free and enlightened consent and expectation of confidentiality of all patient information, in accordance with existing laws.”