Key messages

  • In the event of an exposure incident regarding the possible transfer of a specified infectious disease such as HIV or hepatitis, clinicians will need to apply professional and ethical judgment to decide on a reasonable course of action in accordance with the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008.
  • Gaining the potentially infected patient’s content to testing is by far the preferred position.
  • If agreement cannot be reached then the clinician responsible may ask the Chief Health Officer for an order or authorisation to test.
  • Test results must be provided to any of the affected persons and the possible source.
  • Registered medical practitioners who perform the tests or provide counselling in accordance with the post-incident testing provisions are protected from legal action.

Overview

The Guidelines have been prepared by the Department of Health to assist 'caregivers and custodians' to understand Part 8, Division 5 of the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008, which is concerned with the examination and testing of specified persons following an incident that may have resulted in the transfer of a specified infectious disease (HIV and/or hepatitis B, C or other forms of hepatitis that may be transmitted by blood or bodily fluids).