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New rules for hospitals have been implemented in Idaho that give patients new rights. The rules were implemented by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (IDHW) and are effective from July 1, 2019.
The new rules were suggested by patient advocacy groups and “incorporate standards that parallel—but do not exactly mirror—existing law and/or Medicare conditions of participation for hospitals,” according to IDHW. The policies align with the MyHealthEData initiative, which was launched in 2018 with the aim of removing the barriers to secure access to electronic medical records.
Under previous state law, critical access hospitals (CAHs) were not required to comply with many of the regulatory conditions that applied to other healthcare providers. The new rules change that, which will mean new policies and procedures will need to be implemented by CAHs. That will come with a considerable administrative burden.
The new rules apply to all hospitals in Idaho as well as any provider that renders services in hospitals. All hospitals and providers have been advised to check their policies and procedures to make sure they are compliant with the new rules.
The main purpose of the new rules is to improve patient rights and make it easier – and quicker – for patients to obtain copies of their health information and access to their EHRs.
As required by HIPAA, patients must be provided with a copy of their medical records on request within 30 days of the request being received. Under the new rules in Idaho, access to EMRs must be provided within 3 days of the request being received. The copy must also be provided in a readily readable format on a popular portable media storage device.
HIPAA limits the amount that can be charged for providing patients with copies of their health information. The new Idaho rules further protect patients by only permitting hospitals to charge a reasonable fee for labor and restricting the charges for copies to the cost of copying at the local library.
A patient’s right to privacy has been further protected. Patients have the right to privacy when personal care is being provided, which extends to continuous observation and video and audio monitoring of patients. As of July 1, 2019, hospitals are not permitted to record video or audio, except in common areas, without first obtaining written consent from the patient. Those recordings must then be included in a patient’s medical record.
The new rules also cover notices of discontinuation of care, advance directives, obtaining and documenting informed consent, patient safety, patient grievances, restraint and seclusion, and law enforcement restraints.