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May 2012, Volume 42 Number 5 , p 12 - 13



While I was taking a health history, the patient proudly revealed an elaborate tattoo on her upper arm. She then asked me if it would prevent her from donating blood in the future. I didn't know the answer. What should I have told her?-L.N., ILL.The American Red Cross accepts donations from patients with tattoos "if the tattoo was applied by a state-regulated entity using sterile needles and ink that is not reused"-assuming, of course, that the patient meets all other eligibility criteria. Because of concerns about possible hepatitis transmission, the Red Cross requires donors to wait 12 months after getting the tattoo in states that don't regulate tattoo facilities.But that answer may not be as simple as it sounds. Many states have laws regulating the tattoo industry, but the details vary widely and are subject to change. Advise patients with tattoos or body piercings who want to donate blood to contact their local Red Cross or blood bank to find out what regulations and guidelines apply to their circumstances. For more information about blood donation criteria, visit http:// The ED nurses are always telling nurses on the inpatient unit where I work how busy they are. They're always in such a rush to move patients to our unit, even patients who don't have pressing medical needs requiring immediate care. Why don't they just tell people who don't belong in the ED to go to an urgent care center or see their primary care provider when they come through the door?-S.K., CALIF.All ED personnel must abide by a federal law known as the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA). This law mandates that all patients who enter an ED seeking emergency care receive, at minimum, a medical screening exam. The objective of this exam is to quickly identify any emergency medical condition that requires treatment or intervention. EMTALA specifies the requirements for who can perform the medical screening exam-typically, a licensed independent

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