Standards For Care Of AIDS Patients Set By State
NEW YORK (AP) _ Hospital workers stand little chance of contracting AIDS and have no reason to shun patients with the deadly disease, state health officials said in announcing standards giving AIDS victims the same rights to care received by other patients.
The state Health Department said Monday there was no evidence of AIDS spreading to any hospital worker who was not a member of the ″at risk″ groups - homosexuals, hemophiliacs and intravenous drug users.
The guidelines, however, say caution must be taken in handling the body fluids of AIDS patients.
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome is believed to be spread by body fluids through sexual contact, shared hypodermic needles and blood transfusions. No cure has been discovered.
Florence Frucher, New York City area director for the Health Department, said her office had received 19 complaints about ill-treatment of AIDS victims in the past five months, nine of them confirmed.
The complaints included failure to provide medication on schedule, slow response to requests for care, leaving meals outside patients’ rooms, refusing to help patients eat and outright refusal to attend to AIDS patients.
Mrs. Frucher said there is no need to place AIDS victims in private rooms, except to protect the person who has the disease from infections, or to protect other patients whose immune systems are weak.
AIDS in itself is not ″sufficient reason to refuse admission to an AIDS patient,″ the guidelines say.
Authorities said normal measures used in hospitals to care for hepatitis victims and others also were safe and effective for AIDS victims.
″Well-managed hospitals ... know how to take care of patients with potentially transmissible diseases,″ said Dr. Richard Rifkind, chairman of the state’s AIDS Advisory Research Council.
Robert Cecchi, an official of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, said AIDS victims are often refused admission to hospitals. Once they are admitted, he said, many are ignored.
Kenneth Raske, the president of the Greater New York Hospital Association, which represents the city’s private hospitals, said there were a ″relatively low number of complaints″ about AIDS care.
His organization has set up a task force to study the treatment of the disease, including ″burn out″ suffered by health professionals who spend all their time caring for AIDS victims and watching them die.
He said the Health Department’s new memorandum ″heightens awareness (of the disease). It will not allay fears.″