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5 New Healthcare Laws Impacting Patient Safety in 2024

new healthcare laws in 2024

Moving into 2024, the landscape of patient and healthcare employee safety has undergone significant transformations. This year marks a pivotal moment where new healthcare laws and regulations have been introduced to better protect those at the heart of healthcare: the patients and the professionals who care for them. 

These legislative changes are not just legal mandates but a reflection of our society’s growing commitment to ensuring safer, more efficient, and empathetic healthcare systems. In this blog post, we will explore five of these laws and how they are shaping the future of patient care and employee safety. 

1. California Wage Law (SB 525)

The California Senate Bill 525 was signed into law on October 13, 2023, and comes into effect June 1, 2024. This legislation aims to raise the minimum wage for healthcare employees. The wage increases are structured in stages based on the type of healthcare facility.

For large healthcare systems, dialysis clinics, or those organizations operated by counties with populations over five million, the minimum wage will be $23 per hour from June 1, 2024, to May 31, 2025, increasing to $24 in the following year, and reaching $25 from June 1, 2026.

For hospitals with high Medicare/Medicaid patient populations and certain independent healthcare facilities, the initial increase is set to $18 per hour, with gradual increments leading to $25 by June 1, 2033. Similarly, for various types of clinics and other covered healthcare facilities, the minimum wage will increase to $21 or $22 per hour initially, eventually reaching $25 by June 1, 2028. These adjustments represent a substantial increase in the minimum wage for healthcare workers in California, reflecting an estimated 30% rise from the previous rates.

California’s new bill impacts patient care and employee safety by mandating minimum wage increases for healthcare workers. Higher wages can contribute to improved employee satisfaction and retention, potentially leading to better patient care as experienced staff remain in their roles. By financially empowering healthcare employees, SB 525 aims to enhance the overall quality of healthcare services, benefiting both patients and employees.

This healthcare law reflects an understanding that fair compensation is crucial for maintaining a dedicated and efficient healthcare workforce. It is seen as a significant step toward improving the economic conditions of healthcare workers in the state.

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2. Colorado Examination Law (HB23-1077)

Colorado House Bill 23-1077 was approved on May 25, 2023, and went into effect on January 1, 2024. The bill focuses on informed consent for intimate patient examinations. It requires healthcare providers to obtain a patient’s informed consent before conducting intimate examinations on patients who are sedated or unconscious unless the patient is in a life-threatening situation.

This bill ensures patients are fully informed and consent to such private examinations, fostering trust and transparency in healthcare interactions. This bill also indirectly supports healthcare employee safety by establishing clear guidelines and expectations, reducing the risk of misunderstandings and potential conflicts in patient-provider interactions.

Overall, HB23-1077 strengthens the ethical foundations of patient care and enhances the healthcare environment’s integrity.

3. Connecticut Hospice and Palliative Care Law (SB 1075)

The Connecticut Senate Bill 1075 was enacted on June 28, 2023, and required the Department of Public Health to establish a Hospice Hospital at Home pilot program to provide in-home hospice care to patients through in-person visits and telehealth by January 1, 2024.

Patients must be allowed a daily telehealth visit by a physician or nurse and an in-person visit by a nurse at least twice daily. They will also receive telephone access to an on-call physician and remote patient monitoring. The bill focuses on providing dignity to hospice care patients by enabling them to experience comfortable end-of-life care in their homes. It is part of a larger effort to improve the conditions and care for patients in hospice and palliative care settings.

This legislation likely improves the quality of hospice services, offering patients comfort and respectful treatment in their homes. It also benefits healthcare workers by providing clear guidelines and expectations for patient care, thereby creating a safer and more structured working environment. This approach to hospice care underscores the importance of compassionate and high-quality healthcare during the critical phases of life.

4. Illinois Cyber Security Law (HB 2130)

Illinois House Bill 2130 created the Insurance Data Security Law, which went into effect on January 1, 2024. This law establishes guidelines for information security programs, investigations of cybersecurity events, and notifications of these events. It ensures confidentiality and privilege of documents and information related to investigations and examinations conducted by the Department of Insurance. Illinois is now allowed to take remedial action against companies that fail to comply with the provisions of the law.

By introducing robust data security measures in healthcare, this law impacts patient care and employee safety. This bill ensures that sensitive health information is protected, thereby maintaining patient trust and confidentiality.

For healthcare workers, it clarifies responsibilities and protocols in handling patient data, reducing the risk of data breaches. With the rise of cybersecurity breaches in healthcare, Illinois is creating more transparency so people will be notified when their information is stolen. This law enhances the overall integrity and security of healthcare systems, directly contributing to a safer healthcare environment for both patients and providers.

 

5. Washington Minimum Staffing Levels Law (SB 5236) 

Washington Senate Bill 5236 passed in April of 2023 and was set to be effective January 1, 2024. It introduces significant changes to hospital staffing laws by establishing minimum staffing standards in hospitals. The law modifies the composition and responsibilities of hospital staffing committees, stipulating a balanced representation of management and workers. It also mandates adherence to approved staffing plans, with specific reporting requirements for compliance.

In this law, staffing committees must submit annual staffing plans to state officials by 2025. If hospitals fall below 80% compliance with their plans, the state will assign them a corrective plan. Hospitals that then do not follow the corrective plan could face fines of $50,000 per month. The bill also includes provisions for uninterrupted meals and rest breaks and outlines procedures for handling staffing-related complaints and violations.

Washington’s new bill significantly impacts patient care and worker safety by reforming hospital staffing regulations. It ensures that healthcare workers are not overburdened, leading to improved patient safety due to reduced burnout and turnover. The bill supports the well-being of healthcare workers. These measures collectively aim to create a more sustainable and safe healthcare environment.

Federal Laws to Look Out for During 2024

Federal Staffing Minimum Law

Officials in the Senate and House of Representatives have introduced laws that would set minimum staffing levels for nurses at hospitals across the nation, known as Senate 113 and House 2530.

The legislation would require hospitals and health systems to maintain specific nurse-to-patient ratios. It would also provide whistleblower protections to nurses who speak up about various issues affecting patient safety. The Senate bill is currently referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. The House bill is currently referred to the Subcommittee on Health. To continue to track the progress of this legislation, the Congress website will provide updates.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) Laws

On October 30, 2023, President Biden signed an executive order to establish the first set of standards for using artificial intelligence in healthcare. This order sets the stage for more legislation to be enacted in the House and the Senate.

Several legislators have also proposed ideas on how to regulate AI. Some think that states should first regulate it before moving to the national level. Others think that if it is not regulated nationally, it could threaten biosecurity. With different proposals and ideas being made at the end of 2023, it is sure that AI in healthcare will be a hot legislation topic to look out for throughout 2024.

Looking for a way to make sure your organization stays in compliance with new laws and regulations being put into effect? Click here to learn more about Performance Health Partners’ award-winning compliance and audit solutions.

 

 

 

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