Requires hospitals, nursing homes and community health clinics to provide patient documents in large print format, language assistance services and audio recordings of pertinent medical information.
BILL NUMBER: S4540A
TITLE OF BILL : An act to amend the public health law, in relation to requiring hospitals, nursing homes and community health clinics to provide patient documents in large print format language assistance services and audio recordings of pertinent medical information
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL : To ensure that documents provided to patients in a health setting are accessible to people who are blind or of low vision.
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS : Amends section 2803-s of the Public Health Law:
- Hospitals, nursing homes, and community health clinics are required to provide language assistance services;
- Hospitals, nursing homes, and community health clinics are required to provide largeprint format for frequently used forms, such as consent forms, the patient bill of rights, pre-operative and post-operative information and discharge instructions as well as other written materials that are essential to the patient's care;
- The language assistance plan developed by the facility shall include uniform policies and procedures for the provision of services including the documentation for provision of or refusal of such services and the availability of personnel to read written documents to a patient or patient's assistant and respond to questions. Upon request, the conversations may be recorded and such recording made available to the patient;
- The statement regarding patient rights shall include a provision notifying patients of their right to these services and the availability of large-print documents;
- Facilities shall submit to the Commissioner of Health an annual report assessing its compliance with this act;
- The Commissioner shall develop rules and regulations to implement this act;
- Definitions are provided for "patient assistant," "facility," "hospital," and "nursing home;"
- Provides that facilities may provide services and programs for the blind and low vision population above the requirements of this act; Act does not apply to private practices;
- Act taking effect 180 days after it becomes law.
JUSTIFICATION : Subsection 2 of Section 296 of Article 15 of the Executive Law prohibits agents of public accommodation from communication with the public in a way that denies access to people with disabilities. Discrimination of this kind can have a detrimental impact on the provision of health care.
For patients who are blind and visually impaired, health facilities do not commonly provide information in an accessible format and the rights of people with these disabilities in these cases is not well communicated. Thus, blind and visually impaired people undergoing or recovering from medical procedures must rely on others to read sensitive information so that they can follow instructions correctly, a necessity that compounds an already stressful situation and compromises the privacy of the individual in a health care setting.
Written information is currently made accessible to patients who do not read or understand English, and pre- and post-operative instructions, as well as consent forms, are routinely translated into Spanish or other languages as necessary. With modem technology, these documents can easily be made available in large-print or audio formats at a minimal cost.
1 in 400 New Yorkers is visually impaired and the first tenet of the Patient's Bill of Rights in New York mandates that every patient understand those rights. This bill will help make this possible for blind and visually impaired New Yorkers.
This legislation was developed in consultation with the National Federation for the Blind of New York.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY : None.
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS : To be determined.
EFFECTIVE DATE : This act shall take effect one the one hundred eightieth day after it shall have become a law; provided that effective immediately, the commissioner of health is authorized to promulgate such rules and regulations as may be necessary and proper to implement the provisions of this act.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ S. 4540--A A. 7791--A Cal. No. 542 2009-2010 Regular Sessions S E N A T E - A S S E M B L Y April 24, 2009 ___________IN SENATE -- Introduced by Sen. DUANE -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Health -- commit- tee discharged, bill amended, ordered reprinted as amended and recom- mitted to said committee IN ASSEMBLY -- Introduced by M. of A. KELLNER, MAISEL, WEISENBERG, GOTT- FRIED -- read once and referred to the Committee on Health -- reported from committee, advanced to a third reading, amended and ordered reprinted, retaining its place on the order of third reading AN ACT to amend the public health law, in relation to requiring hospi- tals, nursing homes and community health clinics to provide patient documents in large print format language assistance services and audio recordings of pertinent medical information THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. The public health law is amended by adding a new section 2803-s to read as follows: S 2803-S. PROVISION OF LANGUAGE ASSISTANCE TO VISUALLY IMPAIRED PERSONS. 1. EVERY GENERAL HOSPITAL, NURSING HOME AND DIAGNOSTIC AND TREATMENT CENTER PROVIDING A COMPREHENSIVE RANGE OF PRIMARY HEALTH CARE SERVICES SHALL PROVIDE LANGUAGE ASSISTANCE SERVICES TO A PATIENT OR PATIENT ASSISTANT SO AS TO ENSURE THAT ALL PATIENTS WHO ARE VISUALLY IMPAIRED AND UNABLE TO READ AND COMPREHEND DOCUMENTS PROVIDED BY THE FACILITY WITH THE PROFICIENCY NECESSARY FOR ADEQUATE COMPREHENSION AND COMMUNICATION WITH HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS AND OTHER PERSONNEL HAVE EFFEC- TIVE ACCESS TO THE PROGRAMS AND SERVICES PROVIDED BY THE FACILITY, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO HEALTH CARE, BILLING AND APPOINTMENT SCHED- ULING PROGRAMS AND SERVICES. LANGUAGE ASSISTANCE SERVICES SHALL BE AVAILABLE AT ALL LOCATIONS DURING ALL TIMES THAT PATIENT CARE IS AVAIL- ABLE, AND SHALL, TO THE EXTENT PRACTICABLE, BE PROVIDED IN PERSON. 2. (A) ALL FREQUENTLY USED FORMS, INCLUDING CONSENT FORMS, THE PATIENT BILL OF RIGHTS, PRE-OPERATIVE AND POST-OPERATIVE INFORMATION AND DISCHARGE INSTRUCTIONS, AS WELL AS OTHER WRITTEN MATERIALS THAT ARE ESSENTIAL TO A PATIENT'S CARE AND TREATMENT OR ARE OTHERWISE NECESSARYEXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD10182-03-9 S. 4540--A 2 A. 7791--A
TO PROVIDE ADEQUATE ACCESS TO THE FACILITY'S SERVICES SHALL BE AVAILABLE IN LARGE PRINT FORMAT. (B) EVERY FACILITY SHALL DEVELOP AND IMPLEMENT A LANGUAGE ASSISTANCE PLAN THAT ESTABLISHES UNIFORM POLICIES AND PROCEDURES FOR PROVIDING LANGUAGE ASSISTANCE SERVICES TO VISUALLY IMPAIRED PATIENTS, INCLUDING PROCEDURES FOR DOCUMENTING THE PROVISION OF, OR REFUSAL OF, LANGUAGE ASSISTANCE SERVICES. FACILITY PERSONNEL SHALL BE AVAILABLE TO READ WRIT- TEN DOCUMENTS, INCLUDING PATIENT-SPECIFIC AND NON-PATIENT-SPECIFIC DOCU- MENTS, TO ANY PATIENT OR PATIENT ASSISTANT WHO IS UNABLE TO READ SUCH DOCUMENTS DUE TO VISUAL IMPAIRMENT AND WHO REQUESTS SUCH SERVICES, AND TO RESPOND TO QUESTIONS CONCERNING SUCH DOCUMENTS. UPON REQUEST BY THE PATIENT OR PATIENT ASSISTANT, ALL SUCH CONVERSATIONS MAY BE RECORDED AND AN AUDIO RECORDING OF ALL CONVERSATIONS SHALL BE MADE AVAILABLE TO THE PATIENT OR PATIENT ASSISTANT. 3. THE STATEMENTS REGARDING PATIENT RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES REQUIRED PURSUANT TO PARAGRAPH (G) OF SUBDIVISION ONE OF SECTION TWEN- TY-EIGHT HUNDRED THREE AND SECTION TWENTY-EIGHT HUNDRED THREE-C OF THIS ARTICLE SHALL INCLUDE A PROVISION NOTIFYING PATIENTS OF THE AVAILABILITY OF LARGE PRINT FORMAT DOCUMENTS AND LANGUAGE ASSISTANCE SERVICE. NOTICE OF THE AVAILABILITY OF LARGE PRINT FORMAT DOCUMENTS AND LANGUAGE ASSIST- ANCE SERVICES SHALL BE POSTED IN CONSPICUOUS LOCATIONS THROUGHOUT ALL AREAS OF THE FACILITY THAT ARE ACCESSIBLE TO PATIENTS. 4. EVERY FACILITY SHALL SUBMIT TO THE COMMISSIONER AN ANNUAL REPORT ASSESSING ITS COMPLIANCE WITH THE REQUIREMENTS OF THIS SECTION. THE REPORT SHALL IDENTIFY THE MEASURES TAKEN BY THE FACILITY IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE REQUIREMENTS OF THIS SECTION AND THE PERCENTAGE OF THE FACILI- TY'S PATIENTS WHO UTILIZE SUCH ASSISTANCE. 5. THE COMMISSIONER SHALL PROMULGATE SUCH RULES AND REGULATIONS AS MAY BE NECESSARY AND PROPER TO IMPLEMENT THE PROVISIONS OF THIS SECTION. 6. FOR PURPOSES OF THIS SECTION, "PATIENT ASSISTANT" SHALL MEAN AN INDIVIDUAL WHO COMMUNICATES ON BEHALF OF ANOTHER WHO, BY REASON OF AGE, INCAPACITY OR VISUAL IMPAIRMENT, CANNOT COMMUNICATE FOR HIMSELF OR HERSELF. 7. NOTHING IN THIS SECTION SHALL PRECLUDE MEDICAL FACILITIES FROM PROVIDING LANGUAGE ASSISTANCE SERVICES IN ADDITION TO THOSE REQUIRED UNDER THIS SECTION. S 2. Subdivision 1 of section 2803 of the public health law is amended by adding a new paragraph (k) to read as follows: (K) THE STATEMENT REGARDING PATIENT RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES, REQUIRED PURSUANT TO PARAGRAPH (G) OF THIS SUBDIVISION, SHALL INCLUDE A PROVISION NOTIFYING PATIENTS OF THE AVAILABILITY OF LARGE PRINT FORMAT DOCUMENTS AND LANGUAGE ASSISTANCE SERVICES IN ACCORDANCE WITH SECTION TWENTY-EIGHT HUNDRED THREE-S OF THIS ARTICLE. S 3. Subdivision 3 of section 2803-c of the public health law is amended by adding a new paragraph q to read as follows: Q. A STATEMENT NOTIFYING PATIENTS OF THE AVAILABILITY OF LARGE PRINT FORMAT DOCUMENTS AND LANGUAGE ASSISTANCE SERVICES IN ACCORDANCE WITH SECTION TWENTY-EIGHT HUNDRED THREE-S OF THIS ARTICLE. S 4. This act shall take effect on the one hundred eightieth day after it shall have become a law; provided that effective immediately, the commissioner of health is authorized to promulgate such rules and regu- lations as may be necessary and proper to implement the provisions of this act.