In 2018, Governor Tom Wolf signed a multitude of bills into law that significantly impact Pennsylvania health care providers. Compliance deadlines for these new laws vary. Implementing any new policies or procedures often takes longer than anticipated, so we strongly recommend taking steps to determine whether your organization is out of compliance. While not all-encompassing, the following laws represent those of particular significance:
Act 90 – Anatomical Gifts: this act represents a significant update to Pennsylvania’s anatomical gift law. Additions include a new section addressing specific requirements around vascularized composite allograft donation, an update to the statutory list of designated health care representative decision makers, and new medical record documentation requirements.
Act 112 – Patient Test Result Information: requires Pennsylvania diagnostic imaging providers to directly notify patients when, in the clinical judgment of the provider, a significant abnormality exists in the patient’s imaging result.
Act 96 – Electronic Prescriptions: requires most scheduled controlled substances, except when dispensed or administered directly to a patient by a practitioner or authorized agent (other than a pharmacist) to be prescribed electronically. Several exceptions to this requirement exist, including temporary electronic outages and emergency situations.
Act 54 – Abuse Reporting Information: all hospitals must now publicly display, in a high traffic area within the emergency department, a poster with information on how to report suspected child abuse or neglect. This act also modified the requirement for a health care provider to report a fetal alcohol syndrome or substance use or withdrawal diagnosis to the Department of Health. Previously, the provider only had to report the diagnoses in newborns, but now the provider must report for children up to one year of age.
Act 164 – Sexual Assault Evidence Reporting: requires a health care facility to contact the Department of Health if local law enforcement has not taken possession of sexual assault evidence within seventy-two hours of the hospital’s initial notification for pick up.
In addition, the 2019 Pennsylvania legislative docket contains several bills to monitor, including (i) the Hospital Nursing Staff Report Card Act (H.B. 784), which requires hospitals to publicize information on nurse staffing levels and its nurse staffing plan; and (ii) S.B. 450, a proposed amendment to the Health Care Facilities Act that would create multiple new requirements such as the establishment of a multifaceted formal policy concerning nursing care assignments, and implementing a strict prohibition on retaliation for reporting unsafe practices or policy violations.