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70.24.022  <<  70.24.024 >>   70.24.034

RCW 70.24.024

Orders for examinations and counseling — Restrictive measures — Investigation — Issuance of order — Confidential notice and hearing — Exception.

(1) Subject to the provisions of this chapter, the state and local public health officers or their authorized representatives may examine and counsel or cause to be examined and counseled persons reasonably believed to be infected with or to have been exposed to a sexually transmitted disease.

     (2) Orders or restrictive measures directed to persons with a sexually transmitted disease shall be used as the last resort when other measures to protect the public health have failed, including reasonable efforts, which shall be documented, to obtain the voluntary cooperation of the person who may be subject to such an order. The orders and measures shall be applied serially with the least intrusive measures used first. The burden of proof shall be on the state or local public health officer to show that specified grounds exist for the issuance of the orders or restrictive measures and that the terms and conditions imposed are no more restrictive than necessary to protect the public health.

     (3) When the state or local public health officer within his or her respective jurisdiction knows or has reason to believe, because of direct medical knowledge or reliable testimony of others in a position to have direct knowledge of a person's behavior, that a person has a sexually transmitted disease and is engaging in specified conduct, as determined by the board by rule based upon generally accepted standards of medical and public health science, that endangers the public health, he or she shall conduct an investigation in accordance with procedures prescribed by the board to evaluate the specific facts alleged, if any, and the reliability and credibility of the person or persons providing such information and, if satisfied that the allegations are true, he or she may issue an order according to the following priority to:

     (a) Order a person to submit to a medical examination or testing, seek counseling, or obtain medical treatment for curable diseases, or any combination of these, within a period of time determined by the public health officer, not to exceed fourteen days.

     (b) Order a person to immediately cease and desist from specified conduct which endangers the health of others by imposing such restrictions upon the person as are necessary to prevent the specified conduct that endangers the health of others only if the public health officer has determined that clear and convincing evidence exists to believe that such person has been ordered to report for counseling as provided in (a) of this subsection and continues to demonstrate behavior which endangers the health of others. Any restriction shall be in writing, setting forth the name of the person to be restricted and the initial period of time, not to exceed three months, during which the order shall remain effective, the terms of the restrictions, and such other conditions as may be necessary to protect the public health. Restrictions shall be imposed in the least-restrictive manner necessary to protect the public health.

     (4)(a) Upon the issuance of any order by the state or local public health officer or an authorized representative pursuant to subsection (3) of this section or RCW 70.24.340(4), such public health officer shall give written notice promptly, personally, and confidentially to the person who is the subject of the order stating the grounds and provisions of the order, including the factual bases therefor, the evidence relied upon for proof of infection and dangerous behavior, and the likelihood of repetition of such behaviors in the absence of such an order, and notifying the person who is the subject of the order that, if he or she contests the order, he or she may appear at a judicial hearing on the enforceability of the order, to be held in superior court. He or she may have an attorney appear on his or her behalf in the hearing at public expense, if necessary. The hearing shall be held within seventy-two hours of receipt of the notice, unless the person subject to the order agrees to comply. If the person contests the order, no invasive medical procedures shall be carried out prior to a hearing being held pursuant to this subsection. If the person does not contest the order within seventy-two hours of receiving it, and the person does not comply with the order within the time period specified for compliance with the order, the state or local public health officer may request a warrant be issued by the superior court to insure appearance at the hearing. The hearing shall be within seventy-two hours of the expiration date of the time specified for compliance with the original order. The burden of proof shall be on the public health officer to show by clear and convincing evidence that the specified grounds exist for the issuance of the order and for the need for compliance and that the terms and conditions imposed therein are no more restrictive than necessary to protect the public health. Upon conclusion of the hearing, the court shall issue appropriate orders affirming, modifying, or dismissing the order.

     (b) If the superior court dismisses the order of the public health officer, the fact that the order was issued shall be expunged from the records of the department or local department of health.

     (5) Any hearing conducted pursuant to this section shall be closed and confidential unless a public hearing is requested by the person who is the subject of the order, in which case the hearing will be conducted in open court. Unless in open hearing, any transcripts or records relating thereto shall also be confidential and may be sealed by the order of the court.

[1988 c 206 § 909.]