A study quoted by a Johns Hopkins doctor says that a surgeon operating on an AIDS patient has a 0.2 percent chance of catching the disease from an accidental skin prick, and that the chance of transmitting an infection from doctor to patient is smaller still. That is a statistic the estimated 1,800 women treated by Dr. Rudolph Almaraz before he died of AIDS should keep in mind.
Discovering that your surgeon had AIDS, though, is jolting. But the statistical probabilities should allay the fears of many such patients.
What's needed now is a thorough study of Dr. Almaraz' patients' health, for their reassurance and for verification of the statistics in a real-world case. Theoretical risk assessments are one thing; peace of mind, for these patients and for a nervous public, is quite another. According to other statistics, 5.3 percent of U.S. health-care workers have AIDS, and 37 contracted it at work.