AMA position on managing patients unvaccinated against COVID

The new AMA Position Statement on the Management of Patients Who Are Unvaccinated Against COVID-19 2022 emphasises that, as an overarching principle, doctors should not refuse to see unvaccinated patients solely based on their COVID-19 vaccination status.

The position statement highlights that vaccination is an important measure for reducing transmission of COVID-19, however, fully vaccinated individuals can still catch the virus and transmit it to others.

Simply banning unvaccinated patients from attending a medical practice will not eliminate the risk of disease transmission.

As such, doctors can play a critical role in supporting unvaccinated patients so they continue to receive care.

Practices are encouraged to use a range of measures to reduce the risk of disease transmission, such as telehealth, infection prevention and control methods, physical distancing as well as wearing masks and other appropriate personal protective equipment.

The position statement has been written so as not to conflict with guidance developed by Ahpra and the National Boards entitled “Facilitating access to care in a COVID-19 environment. December 2021” or relevant advice developed by medical defence organisations.

While doctors have a duty of care to look after the health and well-being of individual patients, they also have an ethical and professional duty as well as legislated Workplace Health and Safety obligations to protect other patients, staff, colleagues, other health care workers and the wider community from harm.

In relation to the COVID-19 crisis, this involves minimising the risk of patients with COVID-19 who attend a practice spreading the virus to other patients, carers, staff and others or behaving aggressively towards staff in the event they are denied access to care at that time.

The position statement can be found here.