S.B. No. 975


Effective Date: September 1, 1997


relating to the disclosure of health care information by certain health care providers.


SECTION 1.  Section 241.151, Health and Safety Code, is amended to read as follows:

Sec. 241.151.  DEFINITIONS. In this subchapter:

(1)  "Directory information" means information disclosing the presence of a person who is receiving inpatient, outpatient, or emergency services from a licensed hospital, the nature of the person's injury, the person's municipality of residence, sex, and age, and the general health status of the person as described in terms of "critical," "poor," "fair," "good," "excellent," or similar terms.

(2)  "Health care information" means information recorded in any form or medium that identifies a patient and relates to the history, diagnosis, treatment, or prognosis of a patient.

(3) [(2)]  "Health care provider" means a person who is licensed, certified, or otherwise authorized by the laws of this state to provide health care in the ordinary course of business or practice of a profession.

(4) [(3)]  "Institutional review board" means a board, committee, or other group formally designated by an institution or authorized under federal or state law to review or approve the initiation of or conduct periodic review of research programs to ensure the protection of the rights and welfare of human research subjects.

(5) [(4)]  "Legally authorized representative" means a parent or legal guardian if the patient is a minor, a legal guardian if the patient has been adjudicated incapacitated [incompetent] to manage the patient's personal affairs, an agent of the patient authorized under a durable power of attorney for health care, an attorney ad litem appointed for the patient, a guardian ad litem appointed for the patient, a personal representative or statutory beneficiary if the patient is deceased, [or] an attorney retained by the patient or by the patient's legally authorized representative, or an attorney-in-fact of the patient.

SECTION 2.  Subsections (a) and (c), Section 241.152, Health and Safety Code, are amended to read as follows:

(a)  Except as authorized by Section 241.153, a hospital or an agent or employee of a hospital may not disclose health care information about a patient to any person other than the patient or the patient's legally authorized representative without the written authorization of the patient or the patient's legally authorized representative.

(c)  A disclosure authorization is valid until the 180th [90th] day after the date it is signed unless it provides otherwise or unless it is revoked.

SECTION 3.  Section 241.153, Health and Safety Code, is amended to read as follows:

Sec. 241.153.  DISCLOSURE WITHOUT WRITTEN AUTHORIZATION. A patient's health care information may be disclosed without the patient's authorization if the disclosure is:

(1)  directory information, unless the patient has instructed the hospital not to make the disclosure or the directory information is otherwise protected by state or federal law;

(2)  to a health care provider who is rendering health care to the patient when the request for the disclosure is made;

(3)  to a transporting emergency medical services provider for the sole purpose of determining the patient's diagnosis and the outcome of the patient's hospital admission;

(4)  to a member of the clergy specifically designated by the patient;

(5)  to a qualified organ or tissue procurement organization as defined in Section 692.002 for the purpose of making inquiries relating to donations according to the protocol referred to in Section 692.013(d);

(6)  to a prospective health care provider for the purpose of securing the services of that health care provider as part of the patient's continuum of care, as determined by the patient's attending physician;

(7)  to a person authorized to consent to medical treatment under Chapter 313 or to a person in a circumstance exempted from Chapter 313 to facilitate the adequate provision of treatment;

(8) [(2)]  to an employee or agent of the hospital who requires health care information for health care education, quality assurance, or peer review or for assisting the hospital in the delivery of health care or in complying with statutory, licensing, accreditation, or certification requirements and if the hospital takes appropriate action to ensure that the employee or agent:

(A)  will not use or disclose the health care information for any other purpose; and

(B)  will take appropriate steps to protect the health care information;

(9) [(3)]  to a federal, state, or local government agency or authority to the extent authorized or required by law;

(10) [(4)]  to a hospital that is the successor in interest to the hospital maintaining the health care information;

(11)  to the American Red Cross for the specific purpose of fulfilling the duties specified under its charter granted as an instrumentality of the United States government;

(12)  to a regional poison control center, as the term is used in Chapter 777, to the extent necessary to enable the center to provide information and education to health professionals involved in the management of poison and overdose victims, including information regarding appropriate therapeutic use of medications, their compatibility and stability, and adverse drug reactions and interactions;

(13)  to a health care utilization review agent who requires the health care information for utilization review of health care under Article 21.58A, Insurance Code;

(14) [(5)]  for use in a research project authorized by an institutional review board under federal law;

(15) [(6)]  to health care personnel of a penal or other custodial institution in which the patient is detained if the disclosure is for the sole purpose of providing health care to the patient;

(16) [(7)]  to facilitate reimbursement [by a health benefit plan] to a hospital, other health care provider, or the patient for medical services or supplies;

(17) [(8)]  to a health maintenance organization for purposes of maintaining a statistical reporting system as required by a rule adopted by a state agency or regulations adopted under the federal Health Maintenance Organization Act of 1973, as amended (42 U.S.C. Section 300 et seq.);

(18) [(9)]  to satisfy a request for medical records of a deceased or incompetent person pursuant to Section 4.01(e), Medical Liability and Insurance Improvement Act of Texas (Article 4590i, Vernon's Texas Civil Statutes); [or]

(19)  to comply with a court order except as provided by Subdivision (20); or

(20)  related to a judicial proceeding in which the patient is a party and the disclosure is requested under a subpoena issued under:

(A)  the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure or Code of Criminal Procedure; or

(B)  Chapter 121, Civil Practice and Remedies Code

[(10)  to a court pursuant to a court order or court subpoena].

SECTION 4.  Section 241.154, Health and Safety Code, is amended to read as follows:

Sec. 241.154.  REQUEST. (a)  On receipt of a written authorization from a patient or legally authorized representative to examine or copy all or part of the patient's recorded health care information, or for disclosures under Section 241.153 not requiring written authorization, a hospital or its agent, as promptly as required under the circumstances but not later than the 15th day after the date the request and payment authorized under Subsection (b) are [is] received, shall:

(1)  make the information available for examination during regular business hours and provide a copy to the requestor, if requested; or

(2)  inform the authorized requestor if the information does not exist or cannot be found.

(b)  Except as provided by Subsection (d), the [The] hospital or its agent may charge a reasonable fee for providing the health care information and is not required to permit the examination, [or] copying, or release of the information requested until the fee is paid unless there is a medical emergency. The fee may not exceed the sum of:

(1)  a basic retrieval or processing fee, which must include the fee for providing the first 10 pages of the copies and which may not exceed $30; and

(A)  a charge for each page of:

(i)  $1 for the 11th through the 60th page of the provided copies;

(ii)  50 cents for the 61st through the 400th page of the provided copies; and

(iii)  25 cents for any remaining pages of the provided copies; and

(B)  the actual cost of mailing, shipping, or otherwise delivering the provided copies; or

(2)  if the requested records are stored on any microform or other electronic medium [microfiche], a retrieval or processing fee, which must include the fee for providing the first 10 pages of the copies and which may not exceed $45; and

(A)  $1 per page thereafter; and

(B)  the actual cost of mailing, shipping, or otherwise delivering the provided copies.

(c)  In addition, the hospital or its agent may charge a reasonable fee for:

(1)  execution of an affidavit or certification of a document, not to exceed the charge authorized by Section 22.004, Civil Practice and Remedies Code; and

(2)  written responses to a written set of questions, not to exceed $10 for a set.

(d)  A hospital may not charge a fee for:

(1)  providing health care information under Subsection (b) to the extent the fee is prohibited under Subchapter M, Chapter 161;

(2)  a patient to examine the patient's own health care information;

(3)  providing an itemized statement of billed services to a patient or third-party payor, except as provided under Section 311.002(e); or

(4)  health care information relating to treatment or hospitalization for which workers' compensation benefits are being sought, except to the extent permitted under Chapter 408, Labor Code.

(e)  Effective September 1, 1996, and annually thereafter, the fee for providing health care information as specified in this section shall be adjusted accordingly based on the most recent changes to the consumer price index as published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the United States Department of Labor that measures the average changes in prices of goods and services purchased by urban wage earners and clerical workers' families and single workers living alone.

SECTION 5.  Subsection (g), Section 241.152, Health and Safety Code, is repealed.

SECTION 6.  The importance of this legislation and the crowded condition of the calendars in both houses create an emergency and an imperative public necessity that the constitutional rule requiring bills to be read on three several days in each house be suspended, and this rule is hereby suspended.

Courtesy of Glenn M. Karisch, Ikard & Golden, P. C., Austin, Texas. This page was last revised on May 28, 1997.