HIV vs. HCV pre-employment blood testing
Jan 14, 2005
Hi, I'm a med/surg traveling agency nurse. I carry my own indep. insurance my agency carries my work comp. I've work at different hospitals and agencys in the United states.. Recently for the first time ever, when applying to a county hospital in Calif. through my agency, my agency told me that they required a Hep.C test in order to be employed there. I've never heard of this before. I called HR who had me contact an infectious control supervisor. She said that it was true, legal and although many hospital didn't require it they do. I asked if they also had a mandatory HIV testing, she said no that HIV testinig is protected under some federal law. My question is: Is it legal to require blood testing for non-invasive, low level nursing positions? I could understand if it was a surgical position. Why do they need this information. and what are they doing with this information. Whats their need to know. Universal Precautions is practiced on everyone. I later read somewhere when googling that it is legal to require HIV testing after the position has been acquired. The infectious control supervisor said the reason they want the baseline hepc status is so if there is a finger stick the hospital will know if the patient already had hep c when they started working there. I asked why not do the same for the HIV. She said it is not legal????? Anyway, do you know if HCV testing can or does fall under the same protection as HIV?
Response from Ms. Breuer
When it comes to hospitals as employers, the "is it legal" question becomes complex. Testing of hospital employees for various conditions is not so much a matter of federal or state law as it is a matter of the policy of that hospital board. Obviously they can't require something illegal, but they do have broad powers concerning testing for bloodborne pathogens. What this hospital is doing is probably kosher. Where they could run into problems would be in the application of that information, which you've already zeroed in on. If I were you, I would focus my questions in two areas: application of the information to daily tasks, and how the testee's privacy is being protected.
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