Monday, December 2, 2013

Washington State to Mandate Hospital Disclosure of End-of-Life Policies

Washington state, apparently in reaction to the growing dominance of Catholic hospital systems in the state, is considering regulations that would mandate hospitals to disclose their end-of-life policies.  This transparency would enable people to make more informed decisions about where to seek treatment.  

The Department explains that "requiring hospitals to provide these policies improves transparency by the hospitals about consumer access to their services. This requirement will help consumers have access to important hospital information to help them make decisions on where to get their health care in advance of needing hospital services."

To implement the requirement, the Washington Department of Health is proposing a new section of rules in WAC 246-320-141 ("Patient Rights and Organization Ethics").  

  • A new subsection (5) in WAC 246-320-141 would require hospitals to "submit to the department its policies related to access to care: . . . (c) End of life care . . . ."  
  • A new subsection (6) would require the Department of Health to "post a copy of the policies received under subsection (5) of this section on its web site."  
  • A new subsection (8) would require hospitals to "post a copy of the policies provided under subsection (5) of this section to its own web site where it is readily accessible to the public, without requiring a login or other restriction."

The Washington Department of Health held a hearing on Tuesday and plans to file final rules by December 10.  As I have noted, Michigan and Minnesota have considered legislation that would achieve a similar end.  


owenthesecond said...

Is it really in the states power to actually want to regulate "end of life" issues and dictate to the hospitals how they should or shouldn't make disclosures about these things?

Isn't it hard enough on the families dealing with an sick loved one to then have to deal with hospitals who are trying to jump through the hoops that government regulation will cast down on them? blubee

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