UMMS Policy on Students Infected with a Blood-Borne Pathogen

The University of Massachusetts is committed to a policy of non-discrimination and protecting the legal rights and privacy of infected students while also attending to the protection of the health of the public. A student who is infected with a blood-borne pathogen may attend the University of Massachusetts School of Medicine; however, certain restrictions may be imposed on the scope of the infected student’s training. Actual recommendations and advice to the student will depend on current findings and standards of practice.

All matriculated UMMS students will have their Hepatitis B immunity status confirmed as part of the School’s immunization policy. Although testing for hepatitis C and human immunodeficiency virus is not required, it is the professional responsibility of any student who has risk factors for these diseases to make arrangements for serologic testing.

Students who are aware that they are infected with a blood-borne pathogen [including but not limited to Hepatitis B virus (HBV), Hepatitis C virus (HCV), and Human Immunodeficiency virus (HIV)], if not currently under the care of a personal physician, are strongly urged to contact the Student Health Service so that appropriate medical and psychological treatment may be instituted or continued.

Students infected with a blood-borne pathogen must avoid situations in which they could potentially transmit their infection to others. They are required, therefore, to disclose their infection status to the Assistant Dean for Student Advising in order to arrange necessary accommodations. Such notification is considered the professional responsibility of the student, and failure to disclose blood-borne pathogen infection status is grounds for disciplinary action, including dismissal from the medical school.

The University of Massachusetts School of Medicine reserves the right to restrict students who may transmit blood-borne pathogens from situations that place others at risk. All reasonable accommodations will be made for any student who has tested positive for a blood-borne pathogen to be able to continue medical education. Restrictions and accommodations will be determined on a case by case basis by the UMMS Blood-Borne Pathogen Review Panel. In addition, the Assistant Dean for Student Advising will provide career guidance and elective rotation oversight to all students who have a blood-borne pathogen infection. Every reasonable effort shall be made to maintain confidentiality regarding the blood-borne pathogen status of students. Nevertheless, before an infected student begins a clerkship; directors and supervisors of that clerkship may be informed on a need-to-know-basis of limitations imposed on the student’s activities. In the event that an urgent determination is required, the Assistant Dean for Student Advising will issue temporary restrictions.

The full policy on Students Infected with Blood-Borne Pathogens, which can be found here, contains a partial list of some of the procedures in which infected students may not be allowed to participate.  Students infected with blood-borne pathogens should be aware that, based on current medical knowledge and practice, they may be restricted from future residency training and specialty practice which require the performance of high-risk procedures

A student infected with HBV, HCV, or HIV may continue in the MD program as long as he or she is able to carry out the physical and intellectual activities of all students as outlined in the UMMS Technical Standards. Other conditions that carry a high likelihood of debilitating personal illness or that are likely to lead to a compromise of the student’s immune system should be carefully considered by the applicant before committing to a career in clinical medicine.

Demonstrated competence on Standard Precautions is required of students in clinical programs of the University of Massachusetts School of Medicine. To decrease their risk of acquiring or transmitting blood-borne pathogens, all UMMS students involved in patient care will receive training in the principles of Standard Precautions. They will be expected to adhere to these principles at all times within educational and clinical settings. Any student who feels that a patient or colleague is exposed to their blood or bodily fluids in a professional situation has a professional obligation to notify the attending physician (or appropriate supervising faculty member), and to consent to undergoing diagnostic testing for blood-borne pathogens as defined below. In addition to the UMMS Policy, students on clinical rotations are also subject to the same blood-borne pathogen disease policies as physicians and nurses at those individual clinical sites.

The complete Policy, Medical Students with Blood Borne Pathogen Infection, can be found here.

Revised 06/13