PA 09-76—sSB 1010

Public Safety and Security Committee

Public Health Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING EXPOSURE TO INFECTIOUS DISEASES AND EMERGENCY RESPONDERS

SUMMARY: This act requires a hospital to timely notify an emergency service organization (ESO) when a patient the ESO attended, treated, assisted, handled, or transported to the hospital is diagnosed with infectious pulmonary tuberculosis. The act prohibits the hospital from revealing the patient's identity.

The act requires each ESO to designate an employee or volunteer to (1) receive the notice; (2) initiate notification requests in cases where an ESO member or volunteer reports possible exposure to an infectious disease, including TB; and (3) perform related functions with regard to infectious diseases. The act allows the designee, if unavailable, to name another employee or volunteer to perform these functions.

Under the act, “infectious diseases” include (1) infectious pulmonary TB; (2) hepatitis A, B, or C; (3) human immunodeficiency virus (“HIV”), including “AIDS; ” (4) diphtheria; (5) pandemic flu; (6) methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA); (7) hemorrhagic fevers; (8) meningitis or other meningococcal disease; (9) plague; and (10) rabies. The act applies when a person is exposed to these diseases through the skin or a mucous membrane to another person's blood, semen, vaginal secretions, or certain body fluids found around the chest cavity, heart, abdomen, and spine, among other areas.

The act specifies that no cause of action for damages may arise against, or any civil penalty be imposed on, a hospital or designated officer who fails to comply with the duties specified in the act.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2009

HOSPITAL NOTIFICATION

If a patient (alive or dead) treated, attended, assisted, handled, or transported to a hospital by ESO personnel is diagnosed with infectious pulmonary tuberculosis, the act requires the hospital to notify the ESO's designated officer verbally, no later than 48 hours, and in writing, no later than 72 hours, after the diagnosis. The notice must include the diagnosis and the date when the patient was attended, treated, assisted, handled, or transported to the hospital because of an emergency. It must not include the patient's identity.

If the patient dies at or before reaching the hospital, the hospital must, if it determines that the deceased had infectious pulmonary tuberculosis, notify the ESO's designated officer no later than 48 hours after the determination.

Under the act, ESOs are the state and local police departments; paid or volunteer fire departments; municipal constabularies; ambulance companies; and public, private, or volunteer organizations that provide emergency transportation or treatment to patients. An “emergency services member” means any of the following, acting in an official capacity: police officer, appointed constable who performs criminal law enforcement duties, special police officer, member of a law enforcement unit who performs police duties, firefighter, emergency medical technician, ambulance driver, or paramedic.

DESIGNATED OFFICERS

The act requires each ESO to designate an employee or volunteer to:

1. receive notice of cases of possible exposure to infectious diseases,

2. investigate cases of possible exposure,

3. maintain hospital contact information,

4. request further information from hospitals, and

5. maintain pertinent records.

REQUESTS FOR HOSPITAL INFORMATION

An ESO member who believes that he or she may have been exposed to an infectious disease through contact with a patient he or she treated, assisted, attended, handled, or transported must report the possible exposure to the EMO's designated officer.

The officer must immediately collect and evaluate the facts to determine if it is reasonable to believe that the member may have been exposed to an infectious disease. An officer who determines any such possible exposure must submit a written request to the hospital that received the patient, asking to be notified of the results of any test performed to determine if the patient had an infectious disease.

The request must include the:

1. officer's name, address, and telephone number;

2. officer's employer or, in the case of a volunteer ESO member, the entity for which the officer volunteers;

3. name and contact information of the ESO member who was possibly exposed to the infectious disease; and

4. date, time, location, and manner of exposure.

A request is valid for 10 days after it is made. The hospital must notify the officer who made the request if, after 10 days, no infectious disease test is performed, no diagnosis is made, or the test result is negative. The notice must not include the patient's name.

HOSPITAL RESPONSE TO NOTIFICATION REQUESTS

A hospital that receives a written request for notification must notify the designated officer if the patient has, or tested positive for, an infectious disease. It must provide verbal notice, no later than 48 hours, and written notice, no later than three days, after receiving the request.

If the test is positive for an infectious disease, both the oral and written notice must include the name of the disease and the date when the ESO member attended, treated, assisted, handled, or transported the patient. It must not include the patient's name.

If an officer requests information on a patient who died at or before reaching the hospital, the hospital must provide a copy of the request to the medical facility that determined the cause of the death.

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