So, what should you do if you do not know whether the person you have been assisting may have placed you at risk?
The Nebraska statutes and regulations provide some protection to emergency services providers (including individuals rendering first aid gratuitously) who have had a “significant exposure” to an infectious disease. A “significant exposure” includes any situation in which body fluids, including blood, saliva, urine, etc. of a patient have entered the body of an emergency services provider through a body opening such as the mouth or nose, or break in the skin. Anyone exposed in this manner should complete a “Significant Exposure Form” provided by the Department of Health and Human Services. The healthcare facility is obligated, upon receipt of the form, to request that the patient’s attending physician order the necessary diagnostic testing.
If an emergency services provider has had an exposure that could involve the transmission of Hepatitis B, C, or HIV, a physician or healthcare facility is obligated under the law to conduct diagnostic blood testing on the patient, with or without the patient’s consent.
In Nebraska, protecting a first responder from these types of infectious diseases will trump a patient’s reasonable expectation of privacy.