EXCLUSIVES
FacebookTwitterLinkedInGoogle+RSS Feed
Fire EMSEMS TodayEMS Insider

Hearing Explores Testing Patients for HIV Without Consent

BOSTON-- Lunenburg resident Darrell Demers had no idea what the gash to his hand would mean as he worked on a bloody car-accident victim in Fitchburg nearly two years ago.

It meant a drug regimen that left the paramedic in constant pain to prevent possible HIV infection.

It meant keeping his toothbrush away from his three young daughters and scrubbing the house with bleach if he cut himself.

"This whole insult to my body, my emotional well-being and my family could have been avoided with simple blood tests," Demers said at a hearing at the Statehouse yesterday.

The patient was in a coma, and unable to give consent required by state law. A bill filed by Rep. Stephen DiNatale, D-Fitchburg, would allow blood testing of the patient if others could have been infected by them.

Demers, 39, said he worries about getting infected or having to go through the month-long treatment and year-long waiting period which accompanies a possible exposure to HIV every time he responds to a new emergency. He testified about the bill at a hearing in front of the Committee on Public Health yesterday.

"I have been a public servant my whole life. I am a loving husband and devoted family man," Demers said, his voice breaking.

"I do not want to see any other public servant or health-care worker go through what I went through," he said.

But due to the six-month incubation period of HIV, those placed at risk could be infected even if the HIV test results are negative, argued Denise McWilliams, public policy director at AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts.

"This is one of those unfortunate situations where technology has not caught up with people's needs," McWilliams said. "At this point the test doesn't really give you all the information you need to make a decision."

Rep. Tom Golden, D-Lowell, is concerned about waiving consent for patients.

"Obviously we always want to push to make sure emergency workers are protected, but it's a pretty slippery slope once you waive consent," Golden said. "Maybe we should look at what else can be done to protect them, like some other type of glove out there that doesn't tear as easily."

Rep. Jen Flanagan, D-Leominster, who also testified, said "its important to understand we're not discriminating against any particular disease. What we're trying to do is make this right. "

Seventeen other states have similar laws, DiNatale said.

RELATED ARTICLES

EMS Week: A Time to Reflect and Call For Action in America

The celebration of EMS Week is a great opportunity to take a few moments and review one of the most historic documents in EMS history.

Serving the Psychological Needs of Your Employees

How does your agency help employees cope with the traumas and stressors of EMS?

A Reader Shares Her Experience with James Page

His legacy lives on. 

Vehicle Staging is Essential at an MCI

It's a time-proven practice.

Delivering a Miracle

The Oregon River Safety Program, provided by American Medical Response as a service to communities it serves in Northwest Oregon, realized a decrease in drow...

EMS Physicians Can Help Close the Gap Between EMS & Other Public Health Agencies

Return EMS to our roots of a very close and mutually productive relationship between the EMS physician and the field care providers.

Features by Topic

Featured Careers

 

JEMS TV

FEATURED VIDEO TOPICS

Learn about new products and innovations featured at EMS Today 2015

 

JEMS Connect

CURRENT DISCUSSIONS

 
 

EMS BLOGS

Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts