Code of Virginia

Code of Virginia
Title 32.1. Health

Article 2. Investigation of Diseases.

§ 32.1-39. Surveillance and investigation.

A. The Board shall provide for the surveillance of and investigation into all preventable diseases and epidemics in this Commonwealth and into the means for the prevention of such diseases and epidemics. Surveillance and investigation may include contact tracing in accordance with the regulations of the Board. When any outbreak or unusual occurrence of a preventable disease shall be identified through reports required pursuant to Article 1 (§ 32.1-35 et seq.) of this chapter, the Commissioner or his designee shall investigate the disease in cooperation with the local health director or directors in the area of the disease. If in the judgment of the Commissioner the resources of the locality are insufficient to provide for adequate investigation, he may assume direct responsibility and exclusive control of the investigation, applying such resources as he may have at his disposal. The Board may issue emergency regulations and orders to accomplish the investigation.

B. When an investigation of any outbreak or occurrence of a disease identified through reports required pursuant to Article 1 (§ 32.1-35 et seq.) of this chapter indicates the reasonable possibility that the outbreak or occurrence was the result of exposure to an agent or substance used as a weapon, the Commissioner or his designee shall immediately report such finding to the Department of State Police for investigation. Reports, records, materials or other data reported to the Department of State Police pursuant to this section shall remain confidential and shall not be subject to the provisions of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (§ 2.2-3700 et seq.). The Department of State Police, and any local law enforcement official, may release all or part of any report made or other information obtained pursuant to this section (i) where the release of such report or information may assist in the prevention of imminent harm to public health or safety, or (ii) where the release of such report or information, with patient identifying information removed, may be useful for education of the public on health, safety or homeland defense issues. Reports required by this section shall be maintained in the central repository established by the Department of State Police pursuant to the provisions of § 52-8.5. The Department of State Police shall immediately transmit the report to the local chief of police or sheriff with law-enforcement responsibilities both where the patient resides and where he sought the medical treatment that resulted in the report. In addition, the Department of State Police may transmit the report to federal and military law-enforcement authorities. The Department of State Police and local law-enforcement authorities shall immediately determine and implement the appropriate law-enforcement response to such reports, in accordance with their jurisdiction.

Code 1950, §§ 32-10, 32-42; 1979, c. 711; 1989, c. 613; 2002, c. 768.

§ 32.1-40. Authority of Commissioner to examine medical records.

Every practitioner of the healing arts and every person in charge of any medical care facility shall permit the Commissioner or his designee to examine and review any medical records which he has in his possession or to which he has access upon request of the Commissioner or his designee in the course of investigation, research or studies of diseases or deaths of public health importance. No such practitioner or person shall be liable in any action at law for permitting such examination and review.

Code 1950, § 32-10.1; 1960, c. 507; 1979, c. 711.

§ 32.1-41. Anonymity of patients and practitioners to be preserved in use of medical records.

The Commissioner or his designee shall preserve the anonymity of each patient and practitioner of the healing arts whose records are examined pursuant to § 32.1-40 except that the Commissioner, in his sole discretion, may divulge the identity of such patients and practitioners if pertinent to an investigation, research or study. Any person to whom such identities are divulged shall preserve their anonymity.

Code 1950, §§ 32-10.2, 32-10.3; 1960, c. 507; 1979, c. 711.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of these sections may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.

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