Selected Bills before New York State Senate Health Committee for the 2013 Session

A few bills of note for health care providers in New York were introduced in the New York State Senate with the opening of the 2013 legislative session.  Each of these bills was formally introduced on January 9 and referred to the Senate Health Committee.

  • An act allowing patients to see their laboratory results upon request

S.634-2013, available at http://open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/S634-2013

Senator Stavisky introduced a bill that would allow clinical laboratories to report test results to the patients tested.  The bill would amend the Public Health Law to create a new section 576-D, which would require clinical laboratories to report test results to patients upon request.  Laboratories would have to include disclaimers with these results that caution patients that the reports themselves are not medical advice, and that the reports do not replace communicating with one’s doctor.

  • The Safe Patient Handling Act

S.1123-2013, available at http://open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/S1123-2013

Senators Maziariz, Grisanti, Boncic, Kennedy, Montgomery, and Perkins introduced the bill.  S.1123, the “Safe Patient Handling Act,” which would apply to nursing homes and hospitals, would amend the Public Health Law and Education Law to create a new work group within the New York State Department of Health (“DOH”) to establish safe patient handling guidelines state-wide.  The work group would be required to generate a report for the Commissioner of Health by 2016.  § 2997-H(4).  Furthermore, the Commissioner would be tasked with promulgating new regulations concerning safe patient handling across the state.  § 2997(J)(1).  Facilities covered would have to file a compliance plan by July of 2017, which DOH would have to accept by July of 2018.  § 2997-J(3).

The bill’s justification describes the shortcomings of manual lifting procedures and asserts that a safe patient handling program will generally improve the quality of care in health care facilities.

Hospitals and nursing homes will fall under the new title 1-A of Article 29-D of the Public Health Law.  Among other things, these facilities will have to establish safe patient handling committees that will establish facility criteria and procedures for lifting and repositioning patients and using devices or equipment appropriate for doing so; train employees concerning these procedures; maintain the relevant equipment; and conduct yearly assessments of their programs.  § 2997-K(2).  These committees will also be responsible for investigating incidents associated with patient handling and instituting corrections and controls thereafter.  § 2997-K(2)(D).

Certain health care workers may notify their hospitals or nursing homes in writing that the facilities have not met the standards of the proposed title.  § 2997-L(1).  In those cases, if a facility does not correct the issue within 60 days, any nurse or direct care worker may refuse to handle patients until the facility has addressed the failure to meet these standards.  § 2997-L(2).

The proposed statute also provides for grants to organizations to purchase services or equipment necessary to implement the Act.  § 2997-J(4)(a).

  • The Medical Harm Disclosure Act

S.1117-2013, available at http://open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/S1117-2013

S.1117 would apply to hospitals governed by Article 28 of the Public Health Law.  The proposed statute would impose new reporting requirements on hospitals and new enforcement, data collection, and auditing duties on DOH.

The National Quality Forum’s 29 serious reportable events are referenced in the proposed statute, although the statute also includes a non-exclusive list of events, some of which are duplicates from NQF’s list.  One notable addition to the list in the proposed statute is the death of a previously healthy person while undergoing medical care.  Proposed Public Health Law § 2997-E(2)(f).

Hospitals will have enhanced obligations concerning serious reporting events under this statute.  Compliance with this title will become a “condition of licensure under Article 28.”  § 2997-M(3).  Furthermore, violation of this new act will be proof sufficient to revoke, suspend, limit, or annul a hospital’s operating certificate.  S.1117 § 3.  Some of the new obligations include:

  • Reporting these events to the Department of Health, in timeframes that vary from 24 hours in the most serious cases to 5 days in less serious cases.  Proposed Public Health Law § 2997-F(1).  Hospitals will face civil penalties of $100 per day for each day the event goes unreported beyond the statutory reporting periods.  § 2997-M(2).
  • Interviewing patients and their families concerning these events and placing detailed summaries of these interviews in patients’ medical records.  § 2997-F(6).
  • Reporting these events to patients or their immediate families before reporting to DOH.  § 2997-F(5).

Perhaps most significantly, if the medical harm event that a hospital must report to DOH “contributed to the death of a patient,” then the hospital must include that event as a cause of death on the patient’s death certificate.  § 2997-F(7).

DOH, with the help of new Medical Harm Advisory Committee within the Department, § 2997-G, will develop methods for collecting this data from hospitals, as well as auditing hospital reports.  § 2997-H.  The proposed statute makes several references to national standards for reporting in these cases, including the Common Formats forms developed by AHRQ, a federal agency concerned with health quality, and the National Coordinating Council for Medication Errors.  § 2997-H(3)-(4).  A SUNY entity funded by a trust fund established through the statute would perform the auditing function.  § 2997-H(7).  DOH would publish information concerning hospital inspections and investigations per this proposed statute on its website by the end of 2014.  § 2997-I(3)-(5).

The National Quality Forum’s most recent list of serious reporting events may be viewed here:  http://www.qualityforum.org/Publications/2011/12/Serious_Reportable_Events_in_Healthcare_2011.aspx

 

Caitlin Monjeau contributed this post.

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