Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Help Me Howard: HIV Test
She went to the doctor for a routine checkup and found out later that her doctor ordered an AIDS test without her knowledge or consent. Can he legally do that? Help Me Howard has the answers. Here's the Night Team's Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- Monica Bloise: "So for this special diet we need 70 grams of protein."
Everybody loves to eat. Most of us like to cook.
Monica Bloise: "It's great. It's relaxing to me."
But not many of us have the time to do it everyday.
Monica Bloise: "I know there's 30-minute meals and 25-minute meals. I'm trying to do a 15-minute meal."
Monica actually has her own show on YouTube showing how to cook a week's worth of meals at one time.
Monica Bloise: "There's three episodes in there now and more to come, hopefully, in the next month."
That's her goal, but, of course, in the meantime, she still has to work for a living and take care of herself, which is why she recently got a check-up.
Monica Bloise: "At the end of the examination, he points out that my tattoos concern him."
After seeing her tattoos, the doctor told her he wanted to check her for hepatitis. He gave her a prescription, and when she got home she read it.
Monica Bloise: "So he just wrote down HIV testing on it. Right next to Hepatitis, there's HIV."
Patrick Fraser: "Did he tell you, 'I'm going to test you for HIV?'"
Monica Bloise: "No, not at all."
Patrick Fraser: "And you found out by looking at the prescription?"
Monica Bloise: "Yes."
Monica does not have HIV, but she was still upset that the doctor was going behind her back.
Monica Bloise: "I called the office after I did my research, and the receptionist said not to take it personal that I'm a new patient, and they automatically test all new patients for HIV."
Monica didn't believe that and suspects her doctor, who appeared to be nearing retirement, looked at her tattoos and made some assumptions.
Monica Bloise: "And , yeah, I understand if I was walking around in the 1950s looking the way I do, they would stone me, but, dude, it's 2007."
But, legally, can a doctor just test you for HIV without your permission? To find out the legal recipe for that Monica called Help Me Howard.
Howard Finkelstein: "The answer is clear, absolutely not. In fact, it's illegal for a doctor to order that test without your consent, and, if they do, you need to complain to the state, and the doctor could be fined or even lose their medical license."
When I spoke to the doctor's office they told me, "We appreciate the service you provide to the community, but, due to federal regulations, we cannot discuss the HIV procedure with you."
When the doctor refused to talk to Monica personally, she filed a complaint with the Florida Department of Health.
After they started investigating, the doctor's office sent her a letter telling her they would no longer treat her, but Howard says Monica was smart to not treat this lightly.
Howard Finkelstein: "The reason you need to be careful with tests like HIV is because if you test positive the results are turned over to the County's Health Department and will then get to your insurance company, and if you want to keep it a secret, it won't be for long."
Fortunately, Monica's checkup turned out great.
Monica Bloise: "All right, our food is ready."
Now she can look forward to her cooking show and hopes her doctor learned one thing from this Help Me Howard show.
Monica Bloise: "He needs to be educated. He needs to know that you can't just test somebody for HIV without telling them."
Patrick Fraser: "If you want to get an HIV test and don't want the results turned over to the county Health Department, check with that health department. They have a list of confidential sites that will test you. It sounds strange, but they will help you keep a secret from them. Bottom line: They want people who are worried about HIV to get tested."
Has a problem been simmering, but you just can't taste a solution? Want us to cook one up? Contact us, we'll come up with something you can stomach.
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