CHA News Article

Governor Signs Bills Amending Medical Records, Privacy Laws

Gov. Brown signed three bills this legislative session related to health information privacy and medical records. All three take effect Jan. 1, 2018. Hospital privacy officers and health information managers should update their policies and procedures and train staff accordingly.

Senate Bill 575 (Leyva, D-Chino) requires hospitals, physicians and other health care providers to give a free copy of the relevant portion of the medical record to a patient if needed to support a claim or appeal regarding eligibility for a public benefit program, including Medi-Cal; In-Home Supportive Services; California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs); Social Security disability, Supplemental Security Income/State Supplementary Program for the Aged, Blind and Disabled (SSI/SSP) benefits; federal veterans service-connected compensation and nonservice-connected pension disability benefits; and CalFresh.

Senate Bill 241 (Monning, D-Carmel) aligns state law with federal regulations that limit how much patients are charged for copies of their medical record. Implementation of this bill should not require hospitals to make any operational changes, because hospitals already were required to comply with the federal law. The bill also amends the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act to explicitly permit health care providers that serve mental health patients to disclose patient information to business associates with a HIPAA-compliant business associate agreement, and to use and disclose patient information for health care operations purposes (such as quality improvement, legal defense, operational or financial auditing, etc.). This legislation clarifies that doing so is legal under state law as well as federal law.

Assembly Bill 1119 (Limòn, D-Santa Barbara) amends the patient confidentiality provisions of the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act to explicitly permit communication of patient information during the provision of emergency services between a physician, psychologist, social worker with a master’s degree in social work, marriage and family therapist, professional clinical counselor, nurse, emergency medical personnel at the scene of an emergency or in an emergency medical transport vehicle, or other professional person or emergency medical personnel at a health facility. This bill clarifies existing law and eliminates any confusion about whether disclosing patient information in these circumstances is lawful.

CHA publishes the California Health Information Privacy Manual, which explains all details of state and federal health information privacy law, including patients’ rights, permissible and illegal disclosures, breach notification, and other topics. For more information or to order, visit www.calhospital.org/privacy.

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