In a second case with significant implications for healthcare providers, the U.S. Supreme Court said last week that a dentist is obligated to treat patients who have HIV even if he contends they pose a "direct threat" to his health and safety.
In rejecting an appeal from Maine dentist Randon Bragdon, the court let stand a lower-court ruling in favor of the dentist's patient, Sidney Abbott.
Abbott sued the dentist under the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act after Bragdon refused to fill a cavity in Abbott's tooth at his office and instead offered treatment at a hospital.
The Supreme Court returned the Maine case to a federal appeals court, saying that a healthcare provider's actions should be judged according to "the objective reasonableness of the views of healthcare professionals without deferring to their individual judgments." Bragdon had contended he should be allowed to use his own judgment on how to treat such patients safely.
Abbott's lawyer called the action "the final chapter in a long history of litigation in which every court has taken the view that there is no basis, medical or otherwise, to refuse health services to people with AIDS."