California Legislature—2015–16 Regular Session

Assembly BillNo. 389


Introduced by Assembly Member Chau

February 18, 2015


An act to amend Section 1259 of, and to add Section 128731 to, the Health and Safety Code, relating to health facilities.

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

AB 389, as introduced, Chau. Hospitals: language assistance services.

(1) Under existing law, the State Department of Health Care Services licenses and regulates general acute care hospitals, as defined. Existing law requires those hospitals to adopt and review annually a policy for providing language assistance services to patients with language or communication barriers, as defined. Existing law requires a hospital to annually transmit to the department a copy of its updated policy and to include a description of its efforts to ensure adequate and speedy communication between patients with language or communication barriers and staff.

This bill would require a general acute care hospital and the department to make the hospital’s updated policy available to the public on their respective Internet Web sites. The bill would also, if another technology emerges that replaces Internet Web sites, require the department, by regulation, to require a general acute care hospital to make its updated policy available through that subsequent technology. The bill would also require the department to make that policy available through that new technology.

(2) Existing law creates the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, prescribes the office’s powers and duties, and designates the office as the single state agency to collect specified data from health facilities and clinics for use by all state agencies.

This bill would require a general acute care hospital to annually file with the office the policy described in (1) above for providing language assistance services to patients with language or communication barriers. The bill would require the office to make that policy available to the public on the office’s Internet Web site or through a subsequent technology that replaces Internet Web sites.

Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: yes. State-mandated local program: no.

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:

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SECTION 1.  

Section 1259 of the Health and Safety Code is
2amended to read:

3

1259.  

(a) begin insert(1)end insertbegin insertend insertThe Legislature finds and declares that California
4is becoming a land of people whose languages and cultures give
5the state a global quality. The Legislature further finds and declares
6that access to basic health care services is the right of every resident
7of the state, and that access to information regarding basic health
8care services is an essential element of that right.

begin delete

9Therefore,

end delete

10begin insert(2)end insertbegin insertend insertbegin insertTherefore,end insert it is the intent of the Legislature thatbegin delete whereend deletebegin insert whenend insert
11 language or communication barriers exist between patients and
12the staff of any general acute care hospital, arrangements shall be
13made for interpreters or bilingual professional staff to ensure
14adequate and speedy communication between patients and staff.

15(b)  As used in this section:

16(1)  “Interpreter” means a person fluent in English and in the
17necessary second language, who can accurately speak, read, and
18readily interpret the necessary second language, or a person who
19can accurately sign and read sign language. Interpreters shall have
20the ability to translate the names of body parts and to describe
21competently symptoms and injuries in both languages. Interpreters
22may include members of the medical or professional staff.

23(2)  “Language or communication barriers” means:

24(A)  With respect to spoken language, barriersbegin delete whichend deletebegin insert thatend insert are
25experienced by individuals who are limited-English-speaking or
26non-English-speaking individuals who speak the same primary
27language and who comprise at least 5 percent of the population of
P3    1the geographical area served by the hospital or of the actual patient
2population of the hospital. In cases of dispute, the state department
3shall determine, based on objective data, whether the 5 percent
4population standard applies to a given hospital.

5(B)  With respect to sign language, barriersbegin delete whichend deletebegin insert thatend insert are
6experienced by individuals who are deaf and whose primary
7language is sign language.

8(c)  To ensure access to health care information and services
9for limited-English-speaking or non-English-speaking residents
10and deaf residents, licensed general acute care hospitals shall:

11(1)  Review existing policies regarding interpreters for patients
12with limited-English proficiency and for patients who are deaf,
13including the availability of staff to act as interpreters.

14(2)  begin insert(A)end insertbegin insertend insertAdopt and review annually a policy for providing
15language assistance services to patients with language or
16communication barriers. The policy shall include procedures for
17providing, to the extent possible, as determined by the hospital,
18the use of an interpreter whenever a language or communication
19barrier exists, exceptbegin delete whereend deletebegin insert whenend insert the patient, after being informed
20of the availability of the interpreter service, chooses to use a family
21member or friend who volunteers to interpret. The procedures shall
22be designed to maximize efficient use of interpreters and minimize
23delays in providing interpreters to patients. The procedures shall
24ensure, to the extent possible, as determined by the hospital, that
25interpreters are available, either on the premises or accessible by
26telephone, 24 hours a day. The hospital shallbegin delete annuallyend deletebegin insert make the
27updated policy available to the public on its Internet Web site. If
28another technology emerges that takes the place of Internet Web
29sites, the state department shall direct the hospital, by regulations
30adopted pursuant to the rulemaking procedures of the
31Administrative Procedure Act (Chapter 3.5 (commencing with
32Section 11340) of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government
33Code), to make the information required pursuant to this section
34available through the subsequent technology.end insert

35begin insert(B)end insertbegin insertend insertbegin insertThe hospital shall annuallyend insert transmit to thebegin delete stateend delete department
36a copy of the updated policy and shall include a description of its
37efforts to ensure adequate and speedy communication between
38patients with language or communication barriers and staff.begin insert The
39department shall make the updated policy available to the public
40on its Internet Web site. If another technology emerges that
P4    1replaces Internet Web sites, the department shall make the
2information required pursuant to this section available through
3that subsequent technology.end insert

4(3)  Develop, and post in conspicuous locations, notices that
5advise patients and their families of the availability of interpreters,
6the procedure for obtaining an interpreter and the telephone
7numbers where complaints may be filed concerning interpreter
8service problems, including, but not limited to, a T.D.D. number
9for the hearing impaired. The notices shall be posted, at a
10minimum, in the emergency room, the admitting area, the entrance,
11and in outpatient areas. Notices shall inform patients that interpreter
12services are available upon request, shall list the languages for
13which interpreter services are available, shall instruct patients to
14direct complaints regarding interpreter services to the state
15department, and shall provide the local address and telephone
16number of the state department, including, but not limited to, a
17T.D.D. number for the hearing impaired.

18(4)  Identify and record a patient’s primary language and dialect
19on one or more of the following: patient medical chart, hospital
20bracelet, bedside notice, or nursing card.

21(5)  Prepare and maintain as needed a list of interpreters who
22have been identified as proficient in sign language and in the
23languages of the population of the geographical area serviced who
24have the ability to translate the names of body parts, injuries, and
25symptoms.

26(6)  Notify employees of the hospital’s commitment to provide
27interpreters to all patients who request them.

28(7)  Review all standardized written forms, waivers, documents,
29and informational materials available to patients upon admission
30to determine which to translate into languages other than English.

31(8)  Consider providing its nonbilingual staff with standardized
32picture and phrase sheets for use in routine communications with
33patients who have language or communication barriers.

34(9)  Consider developing community liaison groups to enable
35the hospital and the limited-English-speaking and deaf communities
36to ensure the adequacy of the interpreter services.

37(d)  Noncompliance with this section shall be reportable to
38licensing authorities.

39(e)  Section 1290 shall not apply to this section.

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SEC. 2.  

Section 128731 is added to the Health and Safety Code,
2to read:

3

128731.  

(a) A licensed general acute care hospital shall
4annually file with the office a policy for providing language
5assistance services to patients with language or communication
6barriers required pursuant to paragraph (2) of subdivision (c) of
7Section 1259.

8(b) The office shall make the hospital policy available to the
9public on the office’s Internet Web site. If another technology
10emerges that replaces Internet Web sites, the office shall make the
11hospital policy available through that subsequent technology.



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