Chairwoman Flanagan, Chairwoman Malia, and Members of the Committee, I would like to offer testimony of my strong support of H. 1934, An Act Relative to Inpatient Admissions to Psychiatric Hospitals and Facilities Licensed by the Department of Mental Health (DMH).
This legislation would require individuals admitted to psychiatric hospitals and all facilities operated by, licensed by, or contracted with DMH to be presented with the opportunity to waive confidentiality so that family members and outpatient care providers may better be able to coordinate care. The confidentiality release would be completely voluntarily on the part of the patient.
The release of information form would be given to all patients upon admission to an inpatient facility. The patient would have the option of waiving their right to confidentiality in order for the inpatient provider to effectively coordinate medical care with the family members or outpatient providers of his or her choice. The patient may opt not to waive confidentiality at all or may chose to restrict the waiver exclusively to certain individuals. Because of the voluntary nature of this form, it would not violate the regulations put forth by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
This legislation was created in response to the tragic death of a Massachusetts man who passed away several years ago. It seems that his death resulted from the dangerous lack of coordination of his mental health treatments and treatments for an unrelated chronic physical condition. If his providers had been in contact with one another, it is very possible that his death could have been avoided.
The implementation of the program proposed H. 1934 would stop a similar tragedy in the Commonwealth. Proper coordination of care is beneficial and often necessary for complete and effective health care. A release of information form would be a simple and inexpensive way to ensure that care is coordinated and safe.
Thank you for your consideration of this important legislation. I urge the Committee to vote favorably for H. 1934 as expeditiously as possible.