AB 389, as amended, Chau. Hospitals: language assistance services.
(1) Under existing law, the State Department of Health
begin delete Care Servicesend delete 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:
Section 1259 of the Health and Safety Code is
2amended to read:
(a) (1) The 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.
9(2) Therefore, it is the intent of the Legislature that when
10language or communication barriers exist between patients and
11the staff of any general acute care hospital, arrangements shall be
12made for interpreters or bilingual professional staff to ensure
13adequate and speedy communication between patients and staff.
14(b) As used in this section:
15(1) “Interpreter” means a person fluent in English and in the
16necessary second language, who can accurately speak, read, and
17readily interpret the necessary second language, or a person who
18can accurately sign and read sign language. Interpreters shall have
19the ability to translate the names of body parts and to describe
20competently symptoms and injuries in both languages. Interpreters
21may include members of the medical or professional staff.
22(2) “Language or communication barriers” means:
P3 1(A) With respect to spoken language, barriers that are
2experienced by individuals who are limited-English-speaking or
3non-English-speaking individuals who speak the same primary
4language and who comprise at least 5 percent of the population of
5the geographical area served by the hospital or of the actual patient
6population of the hospital. In cases of dispute, the state department
7shall determine, based on objective data, whether the 5 percent
8population standard applies to a given hospital.
9(B) With respect to sign language, barriers that are experienced
10by individuals who are deaf and whose primary language is sign
12(c) To ensure access to health care information and services
13for limited-English-speaking or non-English-speaking residents
14and deaf residents, licensed general acute care hospitals shall:
Review existing policies regarding interpreters for patients
16with limited-English proficiency and for patients who are deaf,
17including the availability of staff to act as interpreters.
18(2) (A) Adopt and review annually a policy for providing
19language assistance services to patients with language or
20communication barriers. The policy shall include procedures for
21providing, to the extent possible, as determined by the hospital,
22the use of an interpreter whenever a language or communication
23barrier exists, except when the patient, after being informed of the
24availability of the interpreter service, chooses to use a family
25member or friend who volunteers to interpret. The procedures shall
26be designed to maximize efficient use of interpreters and minimize
27delays in providing interpreters to patients. The procedures shall
28ensure, to the extent possible, as determined by the hospital, that
29interpreters are available, either on the premises or accessible by
30telephone, 24 hours a day.
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31 hospital shall make the updated policy
available to the public
33on its Internet Web site. If another technology emerges that takes the place
36of Internet Web sites, the state department shall direct the hospital,
37by regulations adopted pursuant to the rulemaking procedures of
38the Administrative Procedure Act (Chapter 3.5 (commencing with
39Section 11340) of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government
P4 1Code), to make the information required pursuant to this section
2available through the subsequent technology.
3(B) The hospital shall annually
transmit to the department
4a copy of the updated policy and shall include a description of its
5efforts to ensure adequate and speedy communication between
6patients with language or communication barriers and staff.
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7 department shall make the updated policy available to
8the public on its Internet Web site. If another technology emerges
9that replaces Internet Web sites, the department shall make the
10information required pursuant to this section available through
11that subsequent technology.
12(3) Develop, and post in conspicuous
locations, notices that
13advise patients and their families of the availability of interpreters,
14the procedure for obtaining an interpreter and the telephone
15numbers where complaints may be filed concerning interpreter
16service problems, including, but not limited to, a T.D.D. number
17for the hearing impaired. The notices shall be posted, at a
18minimum, in the emergency room, the admitting area, the entrance,
19and in outpatient areas. Notices shall inform patients that interpreter
20services are available upon request, shall list the languages for
21which interpreter services are available, shall instruct patients to
22direct complaints regarding interpreter services to the state
23department, and shall provide the local address and telephone
24number of the state department, including, but not limited to, a
25T.D.D. number for the hearing impaired.
26(4) Identify and record a patient’s primary language and dialect
27on one or more of the following: patient medical chart, hospital
28bracelet, bedside notice, or nursing card.
29(5) Prepare and maintain as needed a list of interpreters who
30have been identified as proficient in sign language and in the
31languages of the population of the geographical area serviced who
32have the ability to translate the names of body parts, injuries, and
34(6) Notify employees of the hospital’s commitment to provide
35interpreters to all patients who request them.
36(7) Review all standardized written forms, waivers, documents,
37and informational materials available to patients upon admission
38to determine which to translate into languages other than English.
P5 1(8) Consider providing its nonbilingual staff with standardized
2picture and phrase sheets for use in routine communications with
3patients who have language or communication barriers.
4(9) Consider developing community liaison groups to enable
5the hospital and the limited-English-speaking and deaf communities
6to ensure the adequacy of the interpreter services.
7(d) Noncompliance with this section shall be reportable to
9(e) Section 1290 shall not apply to this section.
Section 128731 is added to the Health and Safety Code,
(a) A licensed general acute care hospital shall
13annually file with the office a policy for providing language
14assistance services to patients with language or communication
15barriers required pursuant to paragraph (2) of subdivision (c) of
17(b) The office shall make the hospital policy available to the
18public on the office’s Internet Web site. If another technology
19emerges that replaces Internet Web sites, the office shall make the
20hospital policy available through that subsequent technology.