Public health officials, attorneys, policy-makers and advocates have reached out to the Network with requests for legal assistance. Below are some of these requests and the responses given by Network attorneys. To protect privacy, names are not included in the examples. In addition, the Network will not share an example if a requestor asks for his or her request to be withheld.
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Public health surveillance is the ongoing systematic collection, analysis and interpretation of health and other data to inform public health efforts. The Network was recently contacted by a requestor from a state health department planning to conduct blood testing for health surveillance purposes. The requestor had several questions about informed consent related to the testing and associated questionnaires for participants, as well as retention and storage of the health information collected.
A county health department in the process of updating its regulations on body art ― piercings, tattoos, scarification ― contacted the Network for information about regulations in other jurisdictions that define, prohibit, or allow for more unusual forms of body art such as tongue bifurcation (in which the tongue is permanently altered by cutting it centrally from its tip), suspension (hoisting a person into the air via body piercings), and subdermal implants (the insertion of foreign objects under the skin to achieve artistic effects).
“Open burning,” the practice of burning refuse – often trash, leaves, or scrap wood – in the open air, is a common method of disposal but can have serious consequences for environmental safety and the public’s health. Open burning ordinances and model laws are available from several jurisdictions.
The Network was recently contacted by a local health department in Michigan about whether registered nurses can prescribe non-controlled substances under a delegation by a physician and in accordance with the physician’s standing order. The health department also asked if physicians need to personally countersign written prescriptions. Current common practice is for a registered nurse to sign and include the delegating physician’s name on the prescription.
The McKinney-Vento Act is a federal law that provides federal funding for homeless shelter programs and stipulates protections for homeless children in the area of public education. The Network was asked how the law impacts a homeless youth’s access to school-based health services.
The Network was contacted by a program manager at a state health department, who was interested in the how states across the country are addressing the practice of scarification.
The Ohio Public Health Association contacted the Network for information about regulations that govern the donation of unused food by hotels and event centers to homeless shelters and other social service programs in need.
The Network was contacted by a public health practitioner with questions about the authority of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate personal care products, particularly soap. See how the Network responded.
The Network received a request for assistance from a state health official on a question related to voluntary surrender of a health department-issued license.
The Network received a request from a public health advocate who was concerned about the impact of a state ballot proposal on current smoke-free workplace laws.