HB 2116 Modifies provisions relating to visitation right of patients

     Handler: White

Current Bill Summary

- Prepared by Senate Research -

SS/SCS/HCS/HBs 2116, 2097, 1690, & 2221 - This act establishes the "No Patient Left Alone Act". Under this act, a health care facility, defined as a hospital, hospice, or long-term care facility, shall allow a resident, patient, or guardian of such, to permit in-person contact with a compassionate care visitor during visiting hours. A compassionate care visitor may be the patient's or resident's friend, family member, or other person requested by the patient or resident. The compassionate care visitation is a visit necessary to meet the physical or mental needs of the patient or resident, including end-of-life care, assistance with hearing and speaking, emotional support, assistance with eating or drinking, or social support.

A health care facility shall allow a resident to permit at least 2 compassionate care visitors simultaneously to have in-person contact with the resident during visitation hours. Visitation hours shall include evenings, weekends, and holidays, and shall be no less than 6 hours daily. 24-hour visitation may be allowed when reasonably appropriate. Visitors may leave and return during visitor hours. Visitors may be restricted within the facility to the patient or resident's room or common areas and may be restricted entirely for reasons specified in the act.

By January 1, 2023, the Department of Health and Senior Services shall develop informational materials for patients, residents, and their legal guardians regarding the provisions of this act. Health care facilities shall make these informational materials accessible upon admission or registration and on the primary website of the facility.

A compassionate care visitor may report any violation of the Compassionate Care Visitation Act by a health care facility to the Department of Health and Senior Services, as specified in the act. The Department shall investigate any such complaint within thirty-six hours of receipt.

No health care facility shall be held liable for damages in an action involving a liability claim against the facility arising from compliance with the provisions of this act; provided no recklessness or willful misconduct on the part of the facility, employees, or contractors has occurred.

The provisions of this act shall not be terminated, suspended, or waived except by a declaration by the Governor of a state of emergency, in which case the provisions of the "Essential Caregiver Program Act" shall apply.

Additionally, this act establishes the "Essential Caregiver Program Act". During a governor-declared state of emergency, a hospital, long-term care facility, or facility operated, licensed, or certified by the Department of Mental Health shall allow a resident of such facility, or the resident's guardian or legal representative, to designate an essential caregiver for in-person contact with the resident in accordance with the standards and guidelines developed under this act. An "essential caregiver" is defined as a family member, friend, guardian, or other individual selected by a resident, or the guardian or legal representative of the resident. Essential caregivers shall be considered a part of the patient's care team, along with the resident's health care providers and facility staff.

The Department of Health and Senior Services and the Department of Mental Health shall develop the program's standards and guidelines, including: (1) allowing the resident to select at least two caregivers, although the facility may limit in-person contact to one at a time; (2) establishing an in-person contact schedule allowing for at least four hours each day; and (3) establishing procedures enabling physical contact between the caregiver and resident. The facility may require the caregiver to follow infection control and safety measures; provided that such measures are no more stringent than required for facility employees. Caregiver in-person contact may be restricted or revoked for caregivers who do not follow such measures.

A facility may request a suspension of in-person contact for a period not to extend seven days. The suspension may be extended, but not for more than fourteen consecutive days in a twelve-month period or more than forty-five days in a twelve-month period. The Department shall suspend in-person contact by essential caregivers under this act if it determines that doing so is required under federal law, including a determination that federal law requires a suspension of in-person contact by members of the resident's care team.

The provisions of this act shall not apply to those residents whose condition necessitates limited visitation for reasons unrelated to the stated reason for the declared state of emergency.

A facility, its employees, and its contractors shall be immune from civil liability for (1) an injury or harm caused by or resulting from exposure of a contagious disease or harmful agent or (2) acts or omissions by essential caregivers who are present in the facility, as a result of the implementation of the caregiver program. This immunity shall not apply to any act or omission of the facility, its employees, or its contractors that constitutes recklessness or willful misconduct.

These provisions are substantially similar to provisions in the truly agreed to and finally passed CCS/HCS#2/SB 710 (2022), CCS/HCS/SS/SB 690 (2022), and SCS/SB 671 (2022).


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