Code of Virginia
Sections Relevant to Cancer Surveillance
§ 32.1-70 Information from hospitals, clinics, certain laboratories and physicians supplied to Commissioner; statewide cancer registry.
A. Each hospital, clinic and independent pathology laboratory shall make available to the Commissioner or his agents information on patients having malignant tumors or cancers. A physician shall report information on patients having cancers unless he has determined that a hospital, clinic or in-state pathology laboratory has reported the information. This reporting requirement shall not apply to basal and squamous cell carcinoma of the skin. Such information shall include the name, address, sex, race, diagnosis and any other pertinent identifying information regarding each such patient and shall include information regarding possible exposure to Agent Orange or other defoliants through their development, testing or use or through service in the Vietnam War. Each hospital, clinic, independent pathology laboratory, or physician shall provide other available clinical information as defined by the Board of Health.
B. From such information the Commissioner shall establish and maintain a statewide cancer registry. The purpose of the statewide cancer registry shall include but not be limited to:
- Determining means of improving the diagnosis and treatment of cancer patients.
- Determining the need for and means of providing better long-term, follow-up care of cancer patients.
- 2a. Conducting epidemiological analyses of the incidence, prevalence, survival, and risk factors associated with the occurrence of cancer in Virginia.
- Collecting data to evaluate the possible carcinogenic effects of environmental hazards including exposure to dioxin and the defoliant, Agent Orange.
- Improving rehabilitative programs for cancer patients.
- Assisting in the training of hospital personnel.
- Determining other needs of cancer patients and health personnel.
§ 32.1-71 Confidential nature of information supplied; publication; reciprocal data-sharing agreements.
A. The Commissioner and all persons to whom information is submitted in accordance with § 32.1-70 shall keep such information confidential. Except as authorized by the Commissioner in accordance with the provisions of § 32.1-41, no release of any such information shall be made except in the form of statistical or other studies which do not identify individual cases.
B. The Commissioner may enter into reciprocal data-sharing agreements with other cancer registries for the exchange of information. Upon the provision of satisfactory assurances for the preservation of the confidentiality of such information, patient-identifying information may be exchanged with other cancer registries which have entered into reciprocal data-sharing agreements with the Commissioner.
§ 32.1-38 Immunity from liability.
Any person making a report or disclosure required or authorized by this chapter, including any voluntary reports submitted at the request of the Department of Health for special surveillance or other epidemiological studies, shall be immune from civil liability or criminal penalty connected therewith unless such person acted with gross negligence or malicious intent. Further, except for such reporting requirements as may be established in this chapter or by any regulation promulgated pursuant thereto, there shall be no duty on the part of any blood collection agency or tissue bank to notify any other person of any reported test results, and a cause of action shall not arise from any failure by such entities to notify others. Neither the Commissioner nor any local health director shall disclose to the public the name of any person reported or the name of any person making a report pursuant to this chapter.
§ 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.
§ 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.