As the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve, a number of new California laws took effect. Here are three that California hospital executives need to know:

  1. Notice of Observation Status (SB 1076) When a patient is being cared for in an inpatient unit of a hospital (or in an observation unit) the hospital must provide the patient with a written notice when the patient is in observation status. The notice must inform the patient that the observation care is being provided on an outpatient basis and that this may affect the patient’s health care coverage reimbursement. There are also signage and nursing ratio requirements for the designation and use of observation units in California hospitals.
  2. Critical Access Hospitals (AB 2024) If the medical staff of a federally-certified Critical Access Hospital (CAH) agrees, the CAH may now employ physicians and charge for their professional services. The medical staff must determine by vote that employment of the physician is in the best interest of the communities the CAH serves. The CAH must file a report with the California Office of Statewide Health Planning by July 1 of each year.
  3. Reporting Loss of Encryption Key or Security Credential (AB 2828) Encryption only protects data if the thief does not have the encryption key. This law requires that a privacy breach resulting from the loss of an encrypted device must be reported if an unauthorized person has access to the encryption key or security credential.