Title 13: Crimes and Criminal Procedure
Chapter 76: WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION
13 V.S.A. § 3504. Reporting illnesses, diseases, injuries and deaths associated with weapons of mass destruction
§ 3504. Reporting illnesses, diseases, injuries and deaths associated with weapons of mass destruction
(a)(1) Illness, disease, injury or death. A health care provider shall report all cases of persons who exhibit any illness, disease, injury or death identified by the department of health as likely to be caused by a weapon of mass destruction, which may include illnesses, diseases, injuries or deaths which:
(A) can result from bioterrorism, epidemic or pandemic disease, or novel and highly fatal infectious agents or biological toxins, and might pose a risk of a significant number of human fatalities or incidents of permanent or long-term disability; or
(B) may be caused by the biological agents listed in 42 C.F.R. Part 72, Appendix A.
(2) This section does not authorize, nor shall it be interpreted to authorize, unreasonable searches and seizures by public health care employees; nor does this section authorize performance of diagnostic tests or procedures for the specific purpose of incriminating patients, unless the patient consents to such specific tests or procedures after notice of his or her constitutional rights and knowing waiver of them.
(3) Health care providers who make good faith reports to the department of health under this section shall be immune from prosecution, suit, administrative or regulatory sanctions for defamation, breach of confidentiality or privacy, or any other cause of action based on such reports or errors contained in such reports.
(b) Pharmacists. A pharmacist shall report any unusual or increased prescription requests, unusual types of prescriptions, or unusual trends in pharmacy visits that may result from bioterrorist acts, epidemic or pandemic disease, or novel and highly fatal infectious agents or biological toxins, and might pose a substantial risk of a significant number of human fatalities or incidents of permanent or long-term disability. Prescription-related events that require a report include, but are not limited to:
(1) an unusual increase in the number of prescriptions to treat fever, respiratory or gastrointestinal complaints;
(2) an unusual increase in the number of prescriptions for antibiotics;
(3) an unusual increase in the number of requests for information on over-the-counter pharmaceuticals to treat fever, respiratory or gastrointestinal complaints; and
(4) any prescription that treats a disease that is relatively uncommon and may be the result of bioterrorism.
(c)(1) Manner of reporting. A report made pursuant to subsection (a) or (b) of this section shall be made in writing within 24 hours to the commissioner of health, or designee.
(2) The report shall include as much of the following information as is available:
(A) The patient's name, date of birth, sex, race and current address (including city and county).
(B) The name and address of the health care provider, and of the reporting individual, if different.
(C) Any other information as determined by the commissioner of health.
(3) The department of health shall establish a form, which may be filed electronically, for use in filing the reports required by this subsection.
(d)(1) Animal diseases. Every veterinarian, livestock owner, veterinary diagnostic laboratory director or other person having the care of animals, shall report animals having or suspected of having any disease that can result from bioterrorism, epidemic or pandemic disease, or novel and highly fatal infectious agents or biological toxins, and might pose a risk of a significant number of human and animal fatalities or incidents of permanent or long-term disability.
(2) A report made pursuant to this subsection shall be made, in writing, within 24 hours to the commissioner of health or designee, and shall include as much of the following information as is available: the location or suspected location of the animal, the name and address of any known owner, and the name and address of the reporting individual.
(e) Laboratories. For purposes of this section only, the term "health care provider" shall also include out-of-state medical laboratories that have agreed to the reporting requirements of this state. Results must be reported by the laboratory that performs the test, but an in-state laboratory that sends specimens to an out-of-state laboratory is also responsible for reporting results.
(f) Enforcement. The department of health may enforce the provisions of this section in accordance with chapters 3 and 11 of Title 18.
(g) Disclosure. Information collected pursuant to this section and in support of investigations and studies undertaken by the commissioner in response to reports made pursuant to this section shall be privileged and confidential. This subsection shall not apply to the disclosure of information to a law enforcement agency for a legitimate law enforcement purpose.
(h) Rulemaking. The commissioner of health shall, after consultation with the commissioner of public safety, adopt rules to implement this section. The rules adopted pursuant to this subsection shall include methods to ensure timely communication from the department of health to the department of public safety. (Added 2001, No. 137 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. June 12, 2002.)