CHA News Article

CHA Clarifies Hospitals’ Legal Requirement for Notifying First Responders About Disease Exposure
For emergency department managers, infection control officers

CHA has recently received several requests for information about laws that require hospitals to notify first responders who may have been exposed to a communicable disease while caring for a patient. State law requires a hospital’s infection control officer to notify the employer of a prehospital care professional (emergency medical technician, paramedic, fire fighter, peace officer, and others) if a patient has a specified communicable disease that may have been transmitted to the first responder. 

The communicable diseases that trigger this notification requirement are those that must be reported to the local public health officer. Hospitals are required to educate infection control officers about this requirement; employers of prehospital care professionals are also required to educate their employees about this law, so they know what to do if they believe they have been exposed to a communicable disease.

A federal law — the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act — carries similar requirements and additionally requires hospitals to respond to questions from employers of prehospital care professionals about a patient’s infectious disease status under certain circumstances.

CHA’s Consent Manual, in chapter 18, includes details about these laws. The manual’s chapter 5 also includes information about the state law that allows a provider to test a patient’s available blood or other samples for infectious diseases, even without patient consent, if detailed procedures are followed.

CHA provides each member hospital with a free Consent Manual annually; additional copies may be ordered at www.calhospital.org/publication/consent-manual​.

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