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Category: EMS Operations

Topic: Medical/Legal and Ethics

Level: Paramedic

9 minute read

Specified employment laws are important and apply to Emergency Medical Services:

  • Americans With Disabilities Act,
  • Title VII - Civil Rights Act,
  • the Amendments to Title VII,
  • Family Medical Leave Act,
  • Occupational Safety and Health Act, and
  • the Ryan White Act.

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities.

The Civil Rights Act and Amendments prohibit discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, sexual preference, national origin.

The Family Medical Leave Act provides covered employees with job-protected and unpaid leave for qualified medical and family reasons.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) was enacted to encourage safer workplace conditions and established the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (also, OSHA) to set standards and perform inspections at job sites.

The Ryan White Act mandates that EMS personnel can find out whether they were exposed to life-threatening diseases while providing care.


Emergency Response Exposure

The EMS can invoke the Ryan White Act to find out whether they were exposed to life-threatening diseases while providing care.

Notifications about emergency response exposure to one of these listed diseases can arise in either of two ways.

First, the employee may initiate a response on a potential exposure incident such as a needlestick injury, other contacts with body fluids, or suspicion of exposure to an airborne or aerosolized infectious disease.

Second, the medical facility provides routine notification if it determines that the victim of an emergency has a listed airborne or aerosolized infectious disease.


To facilitate notification, the Public Health Officer of each state must identify a Designated Officer of each exposure.

The DESIGNATED OFFICER is required to

  1. Respond to requests from the employee for an assessment of whether they may have been exposed to one of the listed diseases.

    The Designated Officer will
  2. Collect and evaluate the facts about the potential exposure incident and make a determination whether an exposure may have occurred.

    If this is the case, the Designated Officer will
  3. Submit a request to the medical facility that received the victim.

    After receiving a request,
  4. The medical facility that provided treatment or ascertained the cause of death will evaluate facts about the exposure incident provided by the Designated Officer and the clinical information known to the medical facility.

    Based on this information,
  5. The medical facility will make a determination if an exposure did or did not occur or if there is inadequate information to make a determination.
  6. It provides this information to the Designated Officer, who, in turn,
  7. Reports to the employee

The Designated Officer will also receive routine notifications from medical facilities if they determine that a victim of an emergency transported or cared for had a listed disease transmitted by airborne or aerosolized means.

The Designated Officer, in turn, reports to the employee.

In reporting exposures to any listed infectious diseases to Designated Officers, medical facilities provide the name of the infectious disease and the date when the emergency victim was transported.

Part G requires medical facilities to respond to requests from Designated Officers as soon as is practicable, but no later than 48 hours after receiving the request.

Part G also requires notification as soon as is practicable, but not later than 48 hours, from medical facilities to Designated Officers after determining that a transported victim has a listed airborne or aerosolized infectious disease.

RESOURCE: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/ryanwhite/default.html