Health Workers in New York State Call for Change in HIV Testing Requirements
Some New York state health care workers -- including emergency department workers, paramedics and EMTs -- are hoping to change a state law that requires written consent prior to HIV testing of patients in the event that health workers experience needle-stick injuries, the Albany Times Union reports. In cases of accidental needle pricks, New York state written consent requirements prohibit HIV testing if a patient is unconscious or deceased. Health care workers in the state often take post-exposure prophylaxis drugs in the event of possible HIV exposure, the Times Union reports. The prescribed drug regimen can cause a variety of symptoms, including headaches, gastrointestinal problems and weight loss.
Previous legislation attempting to change the law in the state has been unsuccessful, but Michael Daile, regional emergency medical services director at Albany Medical Center, said the he is hopeful the legislation will pass this year. "Our goal is to make sure we are not giving toxic medicine to people who don't need them and we are sending health care workers back into the world knowing they are safe," Daile said. John Janikas -- director of emergency medicine at Samaritan Hospital in Troy, New York -- said, "We basically risk our lives and livelihoods to help people out," adding that in order for health care workers to have "peace of mind," they should have the ability to test a patient for HIV in the case of accidental exposure (Crowley, Albany Times Union, 10/17).