Health Law Discussion

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In NYS, if a healthcare provider has an occupational exposure to the blood or body fluid of a patient whose HIV status is unknown, and the patient is unable to consent to testing, and there is no proxy/surrogate available to consent for testing, an anonymous rapid HIV test can be performed. Other criteria/particulars permitting this anonymous testing are contained in the Powerpoint for Lecture 12 (attached). The results of that test are convey from the lab to the provider caring for the exposed healthcare provider ONLY. The results of that test are not placed in the source patient’s medical record. What do you believe are the public health reasons for keeping this information from the source patient? Do you agree with those reasons? Please briefly comment AND ALSO COMMENT on the below student’s comments whether you agree or not and why and if there are other things to consider.

“I believe that the reason for keeping the information from the source patient is because the intended reason for the rapid test is only to ensure that the exposed person is not infected. The source patient has not consented, is not in a state to consent, and has no proxy to provide consent to have the test taken. Having the rapid test done is more akin to an emergency situation just for the protection of the exposed person, and not for any other purpose. By not providing the results to the source patient or putting it in the source patient’s file, they are maintaining the source patient’s privacy and inability to consent to an HIV test.

However, I’m conflicted about this. I believe that the source patient should know once they have regaining their ability to consent, and for other healthcare providers to know whether the patient is HIV positive or not. I think that if the results are positive, it should go into the medical record just for the purpose of informing other healthcare providers of the extra precaution to take in case of exposure. But on the other hand, the source patient has not consented to the test and there could be extenuating circumstances around whether or not they would want to consent. Additionally, if the patient was able to consent and was HIV positive, they would have informed the providers at the outset but for the fact that he could have been admitted while unconscious for various medical reasons.

Ultimately, I think that the public health reason for keeping the information just to the exposed patient is because it is for an emergency situation and an emergency only.”

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