“Given current treatment guidelines, appropriate medical treatment protocols would be under way before a lawyer would even be able to draft the first of the documents required for to apply for a court order. The suggestion that court-ordered testing is a panacea in cases of work-related exposure thus appears misguided,” notes Robert Holmes, Q.C., President of the BCCLA. “Treatment must be based on medical assessments of risk level, and the information we’ve seen suggests that in high risk situations it should start immediately.”
Further, HIV and Hepatitis testing is known to be unreliable given infection window periods – a person may not just falsely test negative due to lab errors, but the infection may not have yet built up to levels detectable by current tests. Predicating treatment on test results, forced or otherwise, could have disastrous consequences.
“Our emergency workers are heroes for the risks that they take every day,” said Holmes. “But we should provide them with the best medical practice, equipment, treatment and advice possible, not the false comfort of a pointless law that will lead to legal wrangling about forced medical testing and treatment.”
June 2, 2011