Health Care Provider Must Notify Patient of HIV Test Results

By Michael Zerres

Failure to Do So Can Result in Civil Liability to Persons Who Later Contract the HIV Virus from the Patient

“We now hold that a health care provider who orders an HIV test for a patient has a duty to take reasonable measures to notify that patient of the results of the test,” says the Appellate Division in the 8-10-06 opinion in the matter of C.W. v. Cooper Hospital. (A-6100-04T) In that case, the patient, C.W. tested positive for HIV during a hospital admission. At the time he was discharged the results had not yet come back from the lab. When they came back positive, he was apparently not made aware of the results. Subsequently, he passed the virus on to his girlfriend, E.Y. The Court ruled that the duty to inform of HIV test results is extremely important, and, especially so when the test comes back positive because the patient may need prompt treatment and because the patient will also need to be educated on how to prevent the transmission of the virus. Therefore, the court also ruled that a health care provider who fails to communicate the results of an HIV test may also be “civilly liable not only to the patient, but to all reasonably foreseeable individuals who contract the virus from the HIV positive patient.”

Related Articles: