HIV false-positives : the impact doctrine and negligent infliction of emotional distress


In March 1989, R.J. went to Humana Hospital where he underwent an HIV test. The test indicated that he was HIV positive. Approximately 19 months later after · requesting a new test, R.J. found that he was not HIV- positive. R.J. suffered substantial emotional distress is a result of the false positive test result; he lived in fear for 19 months thinking he was HIV positive. R.J. was denied recovery. How is that possible?

The defendants owed a duty to R.J.; that duty was not to inflict upon him any needless

Emotional distress. That duty was breached when they incorrectly diagnosed him as being HIV positive. Their breach actually and proximately caused R.J. to suffer damages in the form of emotional distress. The reason for this inequitable result lies in the strict adherence and application of the illogical and outdated Impact Doctrine. The Impact doctrine requires that “before a plaintiff can recover damages for emotional distress caused by the negligence of another, the emotional distress suffered must flow from physical injuries the plaintiff sustained in an impact" The inconsistent application of this rule, along with changes in society and the advances in medicine and psychology, are evidence that the Impact Doctrine no longer serves a purpose in Florida The Florida Supreme Court should follow the trend of other states and liberalize recovery for negligent infliction of emotional distress and create alternative tests of proof for recovery.


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Thesis Completion





Bast, Carol M.


Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


College of Health and Public Affairs

Degree Program

Legal Studies


Dissertations, Academic -- Health and Public Affairs;Health and Public Affairs -- Dissertations, Academic;AIDS (Disease) -- Diagnosis -- Psychological aspects;HIV infections -- Diagnosis -- Psychological aspects







Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access


Document Type

Honors in the Major Thesis

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