|Several health and hospital-related bills moving in Senate
Medical malpractice expert requirements tightened
The Senate Thursday approved 27-6 a bill tightening the requirements for an expert witness issuing a certificate of merit in a malpractice suit. Engrossed Committee Substitute for Committee Substitute for SB 510 requires an expert signing a certificate of merit be qualified as an expert according to the Rules of Evidence.
The expert must have devoted 60 percent of his or her time to teaching or clinical practice in the cited area of expertise. The expert must include with the certificate of merit all documents reviewed in formulating a decision. The bill now goes to the House.
Busy day for physician assistants
The Senate Committee on Health and Human Resources Thursday approved two bills changing how physician assistants do business.
An originating bill allows hospital-based physician assistants to practice without a collaborating relationship with a single physician, as is currently the requirement. Physician assistants practicing in a hospital must file practice agreements with the Board of Medicine and may collaborate with more than one physician. Collaborating physicians are not required to be identified in the practice agreement. No copy of the originating bill is available, yet.
SB 653 allows physician assistants and podiatric physicians to be partners in medical corporations. Membership is currently restricted to physicians.
Bill speeds up overdose reporting
Mandatory reporters would be required within 72 hours to report drug overdoses to the Office of Drug Control Policy, according to the provisions of SB 520. Quarterly reports are currently required. The original bill lowered the threshold to 48 hours, but an amendment increased that to 72 hours to bring the requirements more in line with current requirements of emergency service providers. Pharmacies and prosecuting attorneys are exempted from reporting.
ODCP Director Bob Hansen said the shortened requirements bring the information available to officials closer to real-time reporting. The bill goes to the Senate.
Involuntary commitment bill delayed
SB 574, permitting a physician to involuntarily hospitalize a mentally ill or addicted patient if the physician feels the patient is a danger to himself or herself or others, was laid over Thursday after Lisa Tackett, director of mental hygiene services for the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, questioned if the bill offers due process.
Brendan Hatfield, a representative of the West Virginia Hospital Association, said hospital officials must release individuals they feel may endanger themselves or others when mental hygiene commissioners or designated magistrates cannot be contacted for hearings. Tackett said a system is in place to accommodate such situations and said hospitals may not be familiar with the process.