State Sets Rules For Care Of AIDS Patients
Aug. 26, 1985
NEW YORK (AP) _ State officials, concerned by reports that AIDS victims have been treated poorly in New York hospitals, on Monday announced guidelines for the care of those stricken with the disease.
The guidelines affirm the right of AIDS victims to the same care received by other patients, with special care taken in handling their body fluids since researchers believe the disease is transmitted through those fluids.
Other isolation proceedures are not always necessary except perhaps to protect AIDS patients and others whose immune systems are weak, officials said. Diagnosis of the usually fatal illness is not ''sufficient reason to refuse admission to an AIDS patient,'' according to the guidelines.
AIDS, which renders the body susceptible to infection, is most likely to strike homosexuals, abusers of injectable drugs and hemophiliacs. It can apparently be spread by sexual contact, contaminated needles and blood transfusions, but not by casual contact.
State Health Department officials said there was no evidence of AIDS spreading to any hospital worker who was not a member of the high-risk groups.
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 or shunted aside.
Florence Frucher, New York City area director for the Health Department, said some AIDS patients have been shunned because hospital workers fear exposure to the disease. Her office had received 19 complaints about ill- treatment of AIDS victims in five months, nine of them confirmed.
The complaints included failure to provide medication on schedule, slow response to requests for care; meals left outside room doors or on the other side of the room; hospital workers refusing to help patients eat; lack of adequate linens or supplies; poor housekeeping, including failure to clean or empty garbage; and poor attitude, with some workers telling their colleagues they would not care for AIDS patients.
The state called for continuing educational programs to reassure hospital workers that they stand little chance of contracting AIDS. 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. ''It's part of the skill of running a hospital.''
Kenneth Raske, the president of the Greater New York Hospital Association, which represents the city's private hospitals, said the new state memorandum ''heightens awareness (of the disease). It will not allay fears.''
As of Aug 22, 1985, AIDS had struck 12,599 people in the United States and claimed 6,338 lives since 1979. The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta began keeping track on June 1, 1981, and traced back to 1979.