New Jersey Supreme Court Says Hospitals’ Internal Reviews Are Not Discoverable

On September 29, 2014, the Supreme Court of New Jersey (NJ Supreme Court) held in a 4-3 decision that all materials prepared “exclusively” for internal use and “as a process of self-critique analysis” are entitled to an absolute privilege from discoverability under the Patient Safety Act. The case before the NJ Supreme Court addressed whether a hospital staff memorandum investigating an adverse event is discoverable in a malpractice suit against the hospital. The NJ Supreme Court said that the ability of hospitals to maintain privacy of their own internal documents is necessary because it promotes transparency for health care providers when a mistake is made.

The retention of internal documents conforms to the Patient Safety Act, because the overarching goal of the Act is not to replace the preexisting evaluative processes hospitals use, but to minimize adverse events occurring from system failures in hospital. The NJ Supreme Court continued by stating that the materials in dispute meet these goals because they aid in future patient safety and medical staff training, and therefore are privileged and not discoverable.

New Jersey Passes Bill Mandating Hospitals to Educate Families of Discharged Patients

A bill requiring hospitals to give instructions to designated caretakers when a relative or friend is discharged from the hospital is now headed to Governor Chris Christie’s office after a 72-0 vote of approval from the New Jersey legislature.

The intent behind the requirement for instructing family members and friends is to ensure that discharged patients receive the care they need when they leave the hospital. The piece of legislation was originally requested by AARP after it made a statement to make caretaking law a priority, stating the average person does not inherently know how to give post-care treatment.

New Jersey Medical Device Tax Proposal

On September 15, 2014, the New Jersey Division of Taxation published a notice of its proposal of a new rule under N.J.A.C. 18:24-37, which would clarify the categories of drugs and durable medical equipment exempt from New Jersey sales and use tax. Certain subcategories of pharmaceuticals and medical devices are already exempt from New Jersey sales and use tax.

Deadline Extension for New Jersey Physicians’ Use of New Paper Prescription Blanks

The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs granted a final extension for physicians to transfer to using the newly approved prescription blanks. As of November 3, 2014, all physicians must be using the new blanks for issuing prescriptions.

The extension comes after some delays in printing and receiving the new blanks, due to high demand. Physicians who have received the new blanks should begin using them immediately.

New Jersey Bill for Medicaid and FamilyCare Telemedicine

A  bill was introduced to the New Jersey Senate in August that would provide coverage and reimbursement under New Jersey Medicaid and New Jersey FamilyCare for health care services provided through telemedicine.

New Jersey is one of seven states that do not provide Medicaid reimbursements for telemedicine. The bill recognizes same and creates flexibility for the insured’s health care options.