Patient Privacy, Hospital Infections and HIV Testing Laws Take Effect

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, January 1, 2009

The new California Senate Health Committee Chair, Democrat Elaine Alquist, wrote two of the new laws to help prevent medical errors, privacy breaches and hospital acquired infections.

"The goal is to make hospitals a really safe place so that people are not afraid to go there and they can be cured of whatever is ailing them."
Alquist says 10,000 Californians die each year from staph infections called MRSA they get at the hospital. Under her legislation, hospitals are required to report these infections to the state, train employees on how to prevent them and screen high-risk patients for MRSA. By 2011 the state will publicly post hospital infection rates online. Alquist says her other bill deals with patient privacy.

"What we were finding is there has actually been over 5,000 patients' medical records that have been breached recently."
Alquist says now hospitals will be fined $25,000 for each compromised medical record. And, the law increases fines for medical errors.

As for other new health care laws…insurance companies will have to pay for HIV testing. Criminal background checks are required for Emergency Medical Technicians starting in 2010. And for families, college kids on their parent's health insurance who take sick leave from school will now be able to keep their coverage.