Attention California Psychiatrists
California physicians (including psychiatrists) placed on probation on or after July 1, 2019, must notify their patients. Specifically, the Patient Right to Know Act requires California physicians to inform patients in person if they are placed on probation for drug abuse, criminal convictions involving patient harm, inappropriate prescribing resulting in patient harm or sexual misconduct. The notification must be made in writing and given to patients to sign before the patient’s first visit following the probationary order. Physicians must also notify hospital employers and malpractice insurers when they are placed on probation.
Attention Florida Psychiatrists
Effective July 1, 2019, Florida’s new telehealth law establishes new telehealth practice standards, creates a registration process for out-of-state health care professionals to use telehealth to deliver health care services to Florida patients, and introduces commercial reimbursement provisions. With respect to practice standards, Florida‘s new law requires telehealth providers to practice in a manner consistent with his/her scope of practice and the established standard of care for a health care professional who provides in-person health care services to Florida patients.
The law sets out additional requirements regarding performing evaluations, prescribing and establishing/maintaining medical records. For more information, see: Center for Telehealth & e-Health Law: http://ctel.org/2019/05/attention-florida-updates-telehealth-policy/.
Attention Maine Psychiatrists
Maine recently enacted LD 287, Public Law Chapter 317, which imposes a duty on mental health professionals to warn and protect others of a patient’s potential violent behavior. The law becomes effective 90 days after the legislature adjourns.
Specifically, Maine LD 287 imposes on mental health professionals a duty to warn and protect if a patient or client is likely to engage in physical violence that poses a serious risk of harm to self or others. In addition to psychiatrists, the duty to warn and protect also applies to osteopathic physicians, physicians, psychologists, alcohol and drug counselors, social workers and counseling professionals. The duty to warn may not be interpreted to require the mental health professional to take any action that in the person’s reasonable professional judgment would endanger the mental health professional or increase the threat of danger to a potential victim.
Mental health professionals subject to the duty to warn may discharge the duty by making reasonable efforts to communicate the threat to a potential victim, notify a law enforcement agency, or seek involuntary hospitalization of the patient. No monetary liability and no cause of action may arise concerning patient privacy or confidentiality against the mental health professionals based on information disclosed to third parties in an effort to discharge a duty to warn.
Attention Ohio Psychiatrists
The Ohio General Assembly enacted House Bill 7 entitled the “Medical Malpractice Improvement Act.” The Bill is effective for medical malpractice cases filed on or after March 20, 2019. Key changes related to psychiatry include:
- Allowing health care providers ready to discharge a patient for medical reasons to keep the patient hospitalized longer if their mental status threatens self or others.
- Adding the terms error and fault to the list of terms protected under the Apology Statute.
- Making comments in medical records protected by the Apology Statute or communications made during an investigation to determine the cause of an unanticipated outcome inadmissible at trial.
- Information contained in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Social Security Act, insurer reimbursement policies and Medicare/Medicaid regulations cannot be used as evidence to address standard of care.
- Allowing a plaintiff an additional 180 days after filing a medical malpractice case to conduct an investigation to determine if additional providers should be added to the action. This process is to avoid suing potentially unnecessary defendants at the time of filing the lawsuit just to preserve the Statute of Limitations.