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Do hospitals need to disclose to EMTs, Paramedics and Firefighters if/when a patient they assisted has COVID19?

by | May 5, 2020

Do hospitals need to disclose to EMTs, Paramedics and Firefighters if/when a patient they assisted has COVID19? 

If you are or know a firefighter, paramedic or other prehospital emergency medical personnel, you may be curious what the rights are for those that come into contact with patients that later test positive for diseases such as COVID19 (or coronavirus). Are hospitals legally required to disclose positive patients? Do they need to do so in any specific timeline? The short answer – yes!

In 2017, SB 432 was passed into law, ensuring that paramedics, firefighters and similar medical personnel are notified if and when they are exposed to a patient with a communicable disease or other reportable condition. Now, notifying these personnel had always been part of hospitals’ procedure, but until 2017 the timeliness of these notifications was not emphasized. Since SB 432 these notifications need to be made as soon as the positive diagnosis is made. 

While SB 432 is a few years old, it is especially relevant now during the current COVID19 pandemic. With that in mind, here is a brief overview of the notification process in the event you or a loved one comes into contact with a patient that tests positive for COVID19.

  • Of course, first there is the event where contact was made. Let’s say in this case the firefighter transported a patient to the hospital. As usual, their contact information is left with the hospital.
  • The patient later tests positive for COVID19.
  • The Health Control Officer at the hospital or other healthcare facility notify the designated officer of the fire department AND the county health officer.
  • In tandem, these officers notify the individual firefighter and arrangements are made for the best course moving forward.

For any additional questions or for a free consultation, contact Goyette & Associates team of tenured attorneys today. We have been representing fire personnel for over 25 years and service clients up and down the state of California, and has offices in Sacramento/Gold River, Fresno, Redding, Modesto, Yreka and Redwood City. In addition to issues relating to notification that you/your loved one has COVID19, we can help ensure your rights are protected if you find yourself infected with the virus.


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