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Patient Can’t Sue Over Exposure to HIV

BROOKLYN, N.Y. (CN) - A woman cannot recover damages for emotional distress after a hospital informed her that she might have been exposed to HIV, the New York Appellate Division ruled.

Four days after undergoing surgery, Susan Siegrist learned that blood from another patient was found in the ventilator.

While the risk of contracting HIV was minimal, the hospital recommended that Siegrist be tested for the virus every three months for the following year.

The tests came back negative, but Siegrist sued the state of New York for negligent infliction of emotional distress.

The appellate judges ruled that Siegrist needed to prove she was in a worse situation to make her eligible for damages.

"A claimant who has not tested positive for HIV must establish that due to the negligence of another party," the judges wrote, "the claimant was exposed to HIV through a scientifically accepted method of transmission and the source of the allegedly transmitted blood or fluid is HIV positive."

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