M. Eburn

Good Samaritan legislation and scope of practice

In Uncategorized on March 27, 2015 at 4:33 pm

This question comes from a NSW volunteer who writes:

At a recent Advanced Resuscitation Techniques  (ART) course in NSW we were advised that a person without a current ART certification would receive no protections under the Good Samaritan Act if they were to treat a casualty using oxygen equipment and that casualty was to subsequently sue them. The explanation was that first aiders weren’t to go “beyond their qualifications”.

There is currently a (probably unofficial) understanding in many RFS brigades that in the absence of a qualified ART operator, anybody who was confident to use the oxygen equipment could do so, with the consensus being that to do something was better than doing nothing.

I understand one doesn’t require first aid qualifications to render first aid, but does one forgo protections under the Good Samaritan Act if one goes beyond his or her current certification to deliver first aid. If so, at what point is one deemed to be “beyond his or her qualifications”?

Statements to the effect that going beyond one’s qualifications takes a person outside the good Samaritan protections shows a fundamental misunderstanding of those protections and why they are there. In short a person does not ‘forgo protections under the Good Samaritan Act if one goes beyond his or her current certification to deliver first aid’.

Nearly all Australian states and territories have in place good Samaritan legislation to ensure that people who step forward to provide emergency medical assistance are not held legally liable for their actions provided they act in good faith (Civil Laws (Wrongs) Act 2002 (ACT) s 5; Civil Liability Act 2002 (NSW) s 57; Personal Injuries (Liabilities and Damages) Act (NT) s 8; Civil Liability Act 1936 (SA) s 74; Civil Liability Act 2002(Tas) s 35B; Wrongs Act 1958 (Vic) s 31B; Civil Liability Act 2002 (WA) s 5AD).

These provisions were introduced following the Ipp Review into the Law of Negligence even though the Review did not recommend that any such legislation was necessary. The Review’s final report said (emphasis added):

The Panel understands that health-care professionals have long expressed a sense of anxiety about the possibility of legal liability for negligence arising from the giving of assistance in emergency situations. However, the Panel is not aware, from its researches or from submissions received by it, of any Australian case in which a good Samaritan (a person who gives assistance in an emergency) has been sued by a person claiming that the actions of the good Samaritan were negligent. Nor are we aware of any insurance-related difficulties in this area.

Under current law, the fact that a person (including a health- professional) was acting in an emergency situation is relevant to deciding whether the person acted negligently. It may be reasonable in an emergency situation to take a risk that it would not be reasonable to take if there was no emergency, provided that precautions appropriate to the circumstances are taken to prevent the risk materialising.

Also relevant to the issue of negligence is the skill that the good Samaritan professed to have. Suppose a passenger on an aircraft has a heart attack, and in response to a call for assistance by the cabin staff, a 60 year old specialist dermatologist goes to the passenger’s aid. The standard of care expected of the doctor would be set not only taking account of the emergency nature of the situation, but also of the fact that a doctor who has practised as a dermatologist for many years could not be expected to be as well-qualified and able to provide emergency treatment for a heart-attack victim as a cardiac surgeon or even, perhaps, an active general practitioner.

The Panel’s view is that because the emergency nature of the circumstances, and the skills of the good Samaritan, are currently taken into account in determining the issue of negligence, it is unnecessary and, indeed, undesirable to go further and to exempt good Samaritans entirely from the possibility of being sued for negligence. A complete exemption from liability for rendering assistance in an emergency would tip the scales of personal responsibility too heavily in favour of interveners and against the interests of those requiring assistance. In our view, there are no compelling arguments for such an exemption. (Ipp Review of the Law of Negligence, Final Report (Commonwealth of Australia, 2002), [7.21]-[7.24]).

Even though the Ipp Review saw no need for this type of legislation the states and territories all moved to solve the problem of community fear of legal liability, rather than any real risk. In doing so they have changed the question from ‘did the intervener act reasonably in all the circumstances?’ to ‘did the intervener act in good faith?’

Given my correspondent is from NSW I’ll use the NSW Act. The Civil Liability Act 2002 (NSW) s 57(1) says:

A good samaritan does not incur any personal civil liability in respect of any act or omission done or made by the good samaritan in an emergency when assisting a person who is apparently injured or at risk of being injured.

A ‘“good samaritan” is a person who, in good faith and without expectation of payment or other reward, comes to the assistance of a person who is apparently injured or at risk of being injured’ (s 56).

To be a good Samaritan the person has be

1) acting in good faith;

2) without expectation of payment or other reward

3) to assist a person who is

4) apparently injured or at risk of being injured.

Nothing in that list says anything about ‘acting within one’s qualifications’ and that is for obvious reasons. The Act is intended to encourage people, including those without any qualifications, to help when help is needed. The Ipp review may have said ‘The Panel understands that health-care professionals have long expressed a sense of anxiety about the possibility of legal liability for negligence arising from the giving of assistance in emergency situations…’ but the section as drafted is not limited to health professionals, it applies to anyone.

The key is ‘good faith’. One could argue that undertaking action that you know you are not trained is not ‘good faith’ but I don’t believe that would be the outcome. The key case on good faith is Mid Density Developments Pty Limited v Rockdale Municipal Council [1993] FCA 408. This case involved a question of whether the council acted in good faith when giving advice in relation to a properties flood risk. In the course of their judgment Gummow, Hill and Drummond JJ said (at [24]):

His Honour found that the statutory concept of “good faith” in the performance of the functions in question, included two criteria. The first was that the act be done bona fide and not maliciously or to achieve an ulterior purpose. The second was that there be “a genuine attempt to perform the function correctly, that is to say that the function should not be performed without caring whether or not it be properly performed”.

With resect to the section in question they went on to say (at [34]) ‘ The statutory concept of “good faith” with which the legislation in this case is concerned calls for more than honest ineptitude. There must be a real attempt by the authority to answer the request for information at least by recourse to the materials available to the authority’.

Applying that reasoning to the good Samaritan provisions requires that the intervener is acting ‘not maliciously or to achieve an ulterior purpose’ so they’re acting to assist the injured person, not to steal their wallet or do them harm and it’s a genuine attempt not to harm the person, ie to do the right thing. So a person who is confident in the use of oxygen and who genuinely believes that oxygen is warranted in the best interest and to avert harm to the patient is acting in good faith when they administer that oxygen; or use the person’s epi-pen or help them with their ventolin, or do CPR or use an automatic defibrillator. The person who says ‘I always wanted to do a tracheostomy using a Swiss army knife and a pen (as in M*A*S*H Season 5 Episode 8, ‘Mulcahy’s War’) and now I can because I can’t be sued’ is not acting in good faith.

It should be noted that whether or not one has a ticket or qualification to do something in no way determines whether or not one is negligent. A person who is unlicensed may be a perfectly safe and competent driver; a person with a licence may be a menace. Whether or not one holds a licence or certificate does not determine whether or not they are negligent in any particular case. There is no law that says one needs any particular authority to use oxygen. In an negligence action the question would be ‘was the use of oxygen reasonable?’ and with the good Samaritan provision, was it done ‘in good faith?’

Conclusion

The good Samaritan provisions are intended to encourage people to act on the basis of some help is better than none and to reassure people that they would not be liable.   The Ipp review said they were unnecessary and would ‘tip the scales of personal responsibility too heavily in favour of interveners and against the interests of those requiring assistance’ because they do remove considerations of whether the response is ‘reasonable’. It is intended, in fact, to encourage action in the very circumstances described that is where a person ‘confident to use the oxygen [or other] equipment could do so, with the consensus being that to do something was better than doing nothing’.

The assertion that a person would ‘forgo protections under the Good Samaritan Act if one goes beyond his or her current certification to deliver first aid’ is quite simply, wrong.

POST SCRIPT: I have previously argued that I don’t think the good Samaritan provisions are intended to apply with volunteers with organisations such as the State Emergency Service, St John Ambulance and by extension, the Rural Fire Service. For those volunteers the ‘volunteer protection’ provisions are more appropriate. I have not addressed that issue in the discussion, above, focussing instead on the issues raised by my correspondent. For the discussion on the applicability of the good Samaritan provisions to emergency service volunteers see:

Does St John Ambulance (Vic) operate ambulances?

In Uncategorized on March 26, 2015 at 3:36 pm

This question comes from a volunteer with St John Ambulance (Vic).  I suspect my correspondent, and other readers, will be surprised by the answer; I know I was.  I am asked:

…  there is always constant debate amongst St John members regarding a few policies such as whether our Vehicles are recognised as Ambulances/Emergency Vehicles, what our legal restrictions are on use of our beacons and sirens (where fitted) and the display of Probationary plates on vehicles as many members are part of other emergency services such as Victoria Police, CFA, Ambulance Victoria and SES and they all have conflicting views on where we stand in the law particularly in regards to our limitations while in a marked vehicle.

Some of the reasons for this confusion could be caused by some of our internal policies stipulating one thing while I have known of people to be pulled over by police and told a different thing (i.e. policy states P plates must be displayed where police have told members to remove them).

Another reason some of us are confused is due to us being able to provide emergency road transport of patients where approval is received from Victoria Police or Ambulance Victoria and our State Duty Officer.

In addition to the above there are many people that believe we are an emergency service due to St John having a role in the State Health Emergency Response Plan (SHERP) and all of our operational instructions include references to such plan.

If you have any better clarification on where St John Ambulance Victoria (Event Health Services not patient transport) stands as an emergency service that would be greatly appreciated. Please know that I’m not asking you for answers to change policy as we will always be stuck by policy but this is more of a general interest question for some of us volunteers.

Let us start with the Road Rules as they apply in Victoria.  As we know from earlier posts the national road rules provide an exemption for emergency vehicles.  Whilst the exemption is consistent across the country, what is not consistent is the definition of an ‘emergency vehicle’.  In Victoria the relevant provisions are contained in the Road Safety Road Rules 2009 (Vic).  With respect to ambulance, the dictionary attached to the rules defines ‘emergency vehicle’ as, amongst other things:

(a)     a vehicle operated by or on behalf of and under the control of—

(i)     an ambulance service created by section 23 of the Ambulance Services Act 1986 or listed in Schedule 1 to that Act; or

(ii)     an ambulance service created under a law in force in another State or in a Territory of the Commonwealth that the Minister, by notice in the Government Gazette, declares to be an ambulance service to which this paragraph applies;

(b)     a vehicle operated as an ambulance by the Australian Defence Force;…

St John Ambulance (Vic) is not mentioned in s 23 or schedule 1 so paragraph (a)(i) does not apply nor does paragraph (b).

An ambulance service includes ‘an ambulance service created under a law in force in another State or in a Territory of the Commonwealth that the Minister, by notice in the Government Gazette, declares to be an ambulance service’.  If St John Ambulance (Vic) is in fact established by a Commonwealth law (which it might be given the nature of the Priory) and the Minister has declared that it is an ‘ambulance service’ then it is an ambulance service and gains all the exemptions that brings.  I cannot find any such declaration in the Victorian Government Gazette http://www.gazette.vic.gov.au/ and the St John website refers to the entity as ‘St John Ambulance Australia (Vic) Inc… a charity that has been providing services to Victorians for 130 years’.   The 2013 annual report says ‘St John Ambulance Australia (VIC) Inc is an independent Incorporated Association’.  Neither the website nor the annual report make any specific mention of the law that establishes St John but I would infer that it is the Associations Incorporation Reform Act 2012 (Vic).  If that is correct paragraph (a)(ii) also has no application.

The Victorian rules do not have a ‘catch all’ provision that says, words to the effect that an emergency vehicle is also any vehicle approved by the licensing or registration authority as an emergency vehicle.  For example in NSW an emergency vehicle is a vehicle driven by an emergency worker and an emergency worker includes ‘a person (or a person belong to a class of persons) approved by the Authority’ (Road Rules 2014 (NSW) Dictionary, definition of ‘emergency worker’).  That sort of provision allows the Roads and Traffic Authority to approve people as emergency workers who the parliament may not have thought of.    The Victorian legislation, in its definition of ‘emergency vehicle’ grants no such power to VicRoads. In the absence of that general power to extend the definition, it must follow that an ambulance operated by St John is not an emergency vehicle for the purposes of the Victorian road rules.

Does that mean they are not allowed to have red/blue lights and/or sirens fitted? These details are set out in the vehicle standards which form Schedule 2 to the Road Safety (Vehicles) Regulation 2009 (Vic).  An ‘exempt’ vehicle may be fitted with any light or reflector (cl 118(1)).  An ‘exempt vehicle’ includes an ‘emergency vehicle’ but that has the same meaning as in the Road Safety Road Rules 2009 (Vic).   ‘A vehicle, other than an exempt vehicle, must not be fitted with any light or reflector not mentioned in the Vehicle Standards without the written approval of the Corporation’.  It follows that beacons may not be installed unless there is written approval from VicRoads and there use will be limited by the terms of that approval.  Sirens are not permitted – Road Safety (Vehicles) Regulation 2009 (Vic) reg 34.

The requirement to display ‘P’ plates is set out in the Road Safety (Drivers) Regulation 2009 (Vic) reg 55.  It says that a ‘person who holds a probationary driver licence … must not drive a motor vehicle … unless— (a)     an appropriate P plate is displayed …’.  That rule does not apply to:

(a) a police officer who, in the course of duty, is driving a motor vehicle; or

(b) a member of the Country Fire Authority who is driving a motor vehicle in the course of fire fighting operations; or

(c) driving an ambulance service or a Victoria State Emergency Service vehicle in the course of duty.

‘Ambulance service’ is not defined so could include St John Ambulance (Vic) but I think a better understanding would be that it means an ambulance service ‘created by section 23 of the Ambulance Services Act 1986 or listed in Schedule 1 to that Act’.

Non-emergency patient transport

Victoria has a system in place to licence non-emergency patient transport (NEPT) services (Non-Emergency Patient Transport Act 2003 (Vic)).  ‘St John Ambulance Victoria Patient Transport’ is a licensed NEPT provider (http://docs.health.vic.gov.au/docs/doc/List-of-NEPT-services-in-Victoria).   An NEPT provider may also be licensed to provide ‘stand-by services at public events’ (ss 35-38) but first aid providers do not have to be licensed (see Non-Emergency Patient Transport (NEPT): Stand-by services frequently asked questions).  It follows that Event Health Services do not have to be licensed under the Non-Emergency Patient Transport Act.  Even if they were it would not change the position with respect to the road rules.

Ambulance Services Act 1986 (Vic)

The Ambulance Services Act 1986 (Vic) s 39, does not make it an offence to provide ambulance services (cf Health Services Act 1997 (NSW) s 67E) rather it makes it an offence to allege any affiliation with an ambulance service or to use a name or insignia that could be confused with Victoria Ambulance.  Those offence provisions do not apply to St John (s 39(2). I do note that the Act uses the old titles of the St. John Ambulance Association and the St. John Ambulance Brigade but (without going through all the logic) we can infer that would apply to St John Ambulance (Vic) Event Health Services as the successor to those earlier titles).

One could infer from that exemption that St John Ambulance is to be accepted as an ‘ambulance service’ even though it is not mentioned in section 23 or schedule 1.  That would not help with respect to the road rules however, as an emergency vehicle is not a vehicle operated by an ‘ambulance service’ (which by implication, could include St John Ambulance (Vic), rather it is an ‘ambulance service created by section 23 of the Ambulance Services Act 1986 or listed in Schedule 1 to that Act’ and that is not St John, regardless of what inference may be drawn because of s 39(2).

Conclusion

One’s immediate response is that this must be wrong; if St John are fitting beacons and sirens to their vehicles (and I infer from my correspondent that they are) then they must have lawful authority to do so. Usually that is found in the sort of provision that would give the authority, VicRoads, the power to grant exemptions from the rules either generally or specific cases.  The Regulations (ie the various rules and regulations) could give the corporation the power to grant exemptions from various requirements (Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic) s 95(3B)) and there are some exemption provisions (for example the corporation can exempt some people from the need to wear a seat belt – Road Safety Road Rules 2009 (Vic) reg 267).  There is a relevant exemption in rule 118 of the Road Safety (Vehicles) Regulation 2009 (Vic) which allows VicRoads to authorise the installation of lights such as beacons but there is no relevant power to extend the definition of ‘emergency vehicle’ in the Rules.

If they’re not fitting beacons and sirens there is no issue, even as a marked St John vehicle it is a vehicle subject to the road rules like any other.  I note that I don’t have access to the ‘internal policy’ documents referred to by my correspondent that might give specific reference to other authority to operate a vehicle as if they were an emergency service.  I would welcome any communication from St John Victoria if that can show that I’ve gone wrong; but in the absence of any reference to a relevant law, my conclusions are:

  1. The driver of a St John vehicle must display P plates (Road Safety (Drivers) Regulation 2009 (Vic) reg 5);
  2. A St John vehicle must not be fitted with a siren (Road Safety (Vehicles) Regulation 2009 (Vic) reg 34);
  3. A St John vehicle must only be fitted with lights set out in the Road Safety (Vehicles) Regulation 2009 (Vic) Part 8—Lights And Reflectors.  It may be fitted with beacons if there is written approval from ‘the Corporation';
  4. A driver of a St John vehicle enjoys no exemption from the road rules (Road Safety Road Rules 2009 (Vic) reg 306); and
  5. A driver commits no offence for failing to give way to a St John vehicle (Road Safety Road Rules 2009 (Vic) regs 78 and 79).

Paramedics and Patient confidentiality

In Ambulance, OHS on March 26, 2015 at 10:29 am

This question comes from a Western Australia paramedic student.  They write

… a topic came up in one of my lectures regarding consent and confidentiality issues between two patients.  My lecturer was a little uncertain how to answer my question and has prompted me to contact you for your help.

Here’s the scenario…

You are called out to an incident involving two people eg. A fight or car accident where there is high probability that body fluids have been spilt and transferred between patients.

One patient has, say, Hep C and strongly asks you not to divulge this information to the other patient.

Where do we stand legally, ethically and morally in this situation?

Well it’s nice that the lecturer referred the student to this blog!  It’s often easier to work from the most extreme case and then move back so for my answer I’m going to assume the patient has HIV rather than Hep C as there are stricter laws applicable in that case.

First the paramedic is receiving confidential sensitive information regarding their patient.  The person who discloses they are HIV positive is doing that with the expectation of confidence but for some reason, we assume they are not just saying it for the sake of telling someone but because it is relevant to their health care.  The privacy principles allow the sharing of private information for the purposes for which it was given (see ‘First aid patient records – who and what are they for?’ (January 31, 2015)).  Paramedics deliver the person to hospital with a hand over to the triage nurse or doctor so it would be quite consistent with the privacy principles to record that information on the patient care record and include that in the handover to the hospital staff.

But the information is not given for the purpose of sharing it with the other person involved, in fact that is expressly refused.  Does the other person need to know?  The paramedics could give the person general advice that they may like to consult their doctor, or ask the hospital doctors if they are being transported, about the need for relevant testing as a general caution when there may have been contact with bodily fluids.  This could be done without any reference to the other person, pointing out that the paramedics always wear gloves and PPE so there is a risk in any case.

Assume however there is some need for the other patient to know the specifics.  There is some case law that says breaching confidence to prevent greater harm is OK.  In W v Egdell [1990] 1 All ER 835 (a UK case) a psychiatrist was engaged to provide an expert opinion to support a person’s application for conditional discharge from a secure mental health facility.  W was being detained after killing 5 people and injuring 2 others in a shooting incident some 10 years earlier.  The psychiatrist wrote his report in essence saying that in his opinion the prisoner was dangerous and should not be transferred to a less secure unit in anticipation of eventual release.  Not surprisingly the applicant’s lawyers did not like that report and chose not to include it in their submission.  The doctor, on becoming aware that his report was not before the Mental Health Review Tribunal, took it upon himself to breach the patient’s confidence (remembering that he had been engaged on behalf of the prisoner/patient) by sending his report directly to the Tribunal.  In an action for breach of confidence the court said the doctor’s actions were lawful. Sir Stephen Brown, President of the Court of Appeal said:

The decided cases very clearly establish:

(1) that the law recognises an important public interest in maintaining professional duties of confidence; but

2) that the law treats such duties not as absolute but as liable to be overridden where there is held to be a stronger public interest in disclosure.

In this case the public interest, and the limited nature of the disclosure, meant that W’s action for damages for breach of confidence was dismissed.

Compare that to the New Zealand case, Duncan v Medical Practitioners Disciplinary Committee [1987] 1 NZLR 513.  Dr Duncan had concern about his patient’s fitness to continue his occupation as a bus driver.  The doctor advised his patient to give up his job, which he refused to do. The doctor asked one of his other patients to help organise a petition to get his patient’s licence revoked.  The patient complained to the Medical Practitioners Disciplinary Committee that found the doctor guilty of professional misconduct and imposed a fine.  Rather than leave it there, and rather than appeal, the doctor went public on the national media (not a lot making news in New Zealand that week).   Jeffries J said

There may be occasions, they are fortunately rare, when a doctor receives information involving a patient that another’s life is immediately endangered and urgent action is required. The doctor must then exercise his professional judgment based upon the circumstances, and if he fairly and reasonably believes such a danger exists then he must act unhesitatingly to prevent injury or loss of life even if there is to be a breach of confidentiality. If his actions later are to be scrutinised as to their correctness, he can be confident any official inquiry will be by people sympathetic about the predicament he faced. However, that qualification cannot be advanced so as to attenuate, or undermine, the immeasurably valuable concept of medical confidence.”

Ultimately Dr Duncan was struck off the register of medical practitioners.

The fundamental difference between the two was who they told; Dr Edgell told the Mental Health Review Tribunal, the body that needed the information and that had the authority to act; Dr Duncan, on the other hand told the world at large.

With respect to the treatment of infectious disease, including HIV, the medical staff must notify the Executive Director, Public Health that the person they are treating has an infectious disease (Health Act 1911 (WA) s 276).  Where the disease is AIDS or HIV the notification must not include the person’s name, address or telephone number unless there are ‘reasonable grounds to believe that the patient may engage in behaviour that is likely to put other persons at risk of infection’ (s 276A).  The Executive Director may order a person suffering from an infectious disease to submit to treatment and/or to enter quarantine (s 251).

One can see that with HIV/AIDS discsloure is very limited.  Even reports to the Executive Director, Public Health do not identify the patient.  There have been cases however where Doctors have been held liable for not disclosing their patient’s HIV status to someone else.

In Harvey v PD [2004] NSWCA 97, FH (a male) and PD (a female) both attended the practice of Dr Harvey for mutual HIV tests as they were planning to get married.  The practice receptionist rang PD to confirm that here results were negative but refused to disclose FH’s results.  FH was positive and the doctor had some discussion with him about his HIV status and made an appointment with a specialist clinic but made no effort to follow upon whether he attended, whether he told PD of his results and whether or not he was taking precautions to prevent spreading the virus to PD.  Without going through all the details (as they’re not relevant to our discussion) Dr Harvey was found to have breached his duty to PD.  He did not need to tell her of FH’s status but he did need to be more proactive in his counselling of FH (as required by the Public Health Act 1991 (NSW)) and if he was not taking steps to protect FH, Dr Harvey could have referred the matter to the Department of Health in terms similar to the WA legislation cited above.

One can see that’s not applicable to our case.  Even if paramedics are treating both patients, so they are both patients of St John Ambulance (WA) they do not have the joint relationship that PD and FH had. There can be no implied consent to share results (something that was considered given PD and FH attended the practice together to get their HIV tests).  There is no suggestion that one patient’s ongoing conduct was posing a threat to the other.

What makes these cases different from the scenario painted by my correspondent is the suggestion of ongoing danger to the.  In our scenario the paramedics don’t know if the HIV patient is posing a risk to anyone else and by his conduct he’s not posing a future risk to the other person.  The other person has been exposed, or not, already, there is no threat of future risk.   The situation may be different if the call was to a fight and one person made ongoing threats about the other, for example if he asked the paramedics to leave him alone for a few minutes so he could ‘finish the job’ and showed the paramedics that he was carrying a gun.  There would be no breach in telling the police and giving a warning to colleagues and the other patient.   But that is not the case here.

I used the example of HIV as the more stringent requirements, in each state, to limit information regarding the identity of HIV patients (see Health Act 1911 (WA) s 276A discussed above).   Hepatitis C is not included in the definition of an infectious disease (Health Act 1911 (WA) s 3) but the definition does include any disease listed as an infectious disease in the Government Gazette.  Hepatitis C is listed as an infectious disease on the WA Department of Health website so has, presumably, been added to the relevant definition by proclamation.   The fact that it is an infectious disease again means it must be reported (see http://www.public.health.wa.gov.au/3/314/3/hepatitis_c.pm) so that would reinforce that it is appropriate for paramedics to tell the doctors at handover but still would not justify telling the other patient.  Hopefully the hospital will have in place processes to counsel the patient and persuade him or her to give consent to let the other person know.  If that consent is not forthcoming then the other patient can still be counselled, and offered HIV, Hepatitis and other relevant tests, and that can be put as a general precaution given the risk, without divulging the other person’s status.

Conclusion

Taking those issues into account I would conclude that telling the treating staff at the hospital is legitimate as its telling those that need to know and it’s no breach of privacy as its using the information received for the purposes for which it was received.  Telling the other patient would not however be justified.

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