Amended in Senate September 1, 2015

Amended in Senate June 19, 2015

Amended in Senate June 2, 2015

Amended in Assembly April 9, 2015

California Legislature—2015–16 Regular Session

Assembly BillNo. 389


Introduced by Assembly Member Chau

February 18, 2015


An act to amend Section 1259begin delete of, and to add Section 128731 to,end deletebegin insert ofend insert the Health and Safety Code, relating to health facilities.

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

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

(1) Existing law provides for the licensure and regulation by the State Department of Public Health of health facilities, including general acute care hospitals. A violation of these provisions is a crime. 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 annually to the public on their respective Internet Web sites. The bill would also require a general acute care hospital to post on its Internet Web site a notice, in English and in the other most commonly spoken languages in the hospital’s service area, of the availability of language assistance services.begin delete 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.end delete Because a violation of these provisions by a health facility would be a crime, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.

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(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.

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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.

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(3)

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begin insert(2)end insert The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.

This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.

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

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

P2    1

SECTION 1.  

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

3

1259.  

(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
P3    1the staff of any general acute care hospital, arrangements shall be
2made for interpreters or bilingual professional staff to ensure
3adequate and speedy communication between patients and staff.

4(b)  As used in this section:

5(1)  “Interpreter” means a person fluent in English and in the
6necessary second language, who can accurately speak, read, and
7readily interpret the necessary second language, or a person who
8can accurately sign and read sign language. Interpreters shall have
9the ability to translate the names of body parts and to describe
10competently symptoms and injuries in both languages. Interpreters
11may include members of the medical or professional staff.

12(2)  “Language or communication barriers” means:

13(A)  With respect to spoken language, barriers that are
14experienced by individuals who are limited-English-speaking or
15non-English-speaking individuals who speak the same primary
16language and who comprise at least 5 percent of the population of
17the geographical area served by the hospital or of the actual patient
18population of the hospital. In cases of dispute, the state department
19shall determine, based on objective data, whether the 5 percent
20population standard applies to a given hospital.

21(B)  With respect to sign language, barriers that are experienced
22by individuals who are deaf and whose primary language is sign
23language.

24(c)  To ensure access to health care information and services
25for limited-English-speaking or non-English-speaking residents
26and deaf residents, licensed general acute care hospitals shall:

27(1)  Review existing policies regarding interpreters for patients
28with limited-English proficiency and for patients who are deaf,
29including the availability of staff to act as interpreters.

30(2)  (A) (i) Adopt and review annually a policy for providing
31language assistance services to patients with language or
32communication barriers. The policy shall include procedures for
33providing, to the extent possible, as determined by the hospital,
34the use of an interpreter whenever a language or communication
35barrier exists, except when the patient, after being informed of the
36availability of the interpreter service, chooses to use a family
37member or friend who volunteers to interpret. The procedures shall
38be designed to maximize efficient use of interpreters and minimize
39delays in providing interpreters to patients. The procedures shall
40ensure, to the extent possible, as determined by the hospital, that
P4    1interpreters are available, either on the premises or accessible by
2telephone, 24 hours a day.

3(ii) The hospital shall, on or before July 1, 2016, and every
4January 1 thereafter, make the updated policy and a notice of
5availability of language assistance services available to the public
6on its Internet Web site. The notice shall be in English and in the
7other languages most commonly spoken in the hospital’s service
8area. For purposes of this paragraph, the hospital shall make the
9notice available in the language of individuals who meet the
10definition of having a language barrier pursuant to subparagraph
11(A) of paragraph (2) of subdivision (b); however, a hospital is not
12required to make the notice available in more than five languages
13other than English.begin delete If another technology emerges that takes the
14place of Internet Web sites, the state department shall direct the
15hospital, by regulations adopted pursuant to the rulemaking
16procedures of the Administrative Procedure Act (Chapter 3.5
17(commencing with Section 11340) of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title
182 of the Government Code), to make the information required
19pursuant to this section available through the subsequent
20technology.end delete

21(B) (i) The hospital shall, on or before July 1, 2016, and every
22January 1 thereafter, transmit to the department a copy of the
23updated policy and shall include a description of its efforts to
24ensure adequate and speedy communication between patients with
25language or communication barriers and staff.

26(ii) The department shall make the updated policy available to
27the public on its Internet Web site.begin delete If another technology emerges
28that replaces Internet Web sites, the department shall make the
29information required pursuant to this section available through
30that subsequent technology.end delete

31(3)  Develop, and post in conspicuous locations, notices that
32advise patients and their families of the availability of interpreters,
33the procedure for obtaining an interpreter and the telephone
34numbers where complaints may be filed concerning interpreter
35service problems, including, but not limited to, a T.D.D. number
36for the hearing impaired. The notices shall be posted, at a
37minimum, in the emergency room, the admitting area, the entrance,
38and in outpatient areas. Notices shall inform patients that interpreter
39services are available upon request, shall list the languages for
40which interpreter services are available, shall instruct patients to
P5    1direct complaints regarding interpreter services to the state
2department, and shall provide the local address and telephone
3number of the state department, including, but not limited to, a
4T.D.D. number for the hearing impaired.

5(4)  Identify and record a patient’s primary language and dialect
6on one or more of the following: patient medical chart, hospital
7bracelet, bedside notice, or nursing card.

8(5)  Prepare and maintain as needed a list of interpreters who
9have been identified as proficient in sign language and in the
10languages of the population of the geographical area serviced who
11have the ability to translate the names of body parts, injuries, and
12symptoms.

13(6)  Notify employees of the hospital’s commitment to provide
14interpreters to all patients who request them.

15(7)  Review all standardized written forms, waivers, documents,
16and informational materials available to patients upon admission
17to determine which to translate into languages other than English.

18(8)  Consider providing its nonbilingual staff with standardized
19picture and phrase sheets for use in routine communications with
20patients who have language or communication barriers.

21(9)  Consider developing community liaison groups to enable
22the hospital and the limited-English-speaking and deaf communities
23to ensure the adequacy of the interpreter services.

24(d)  Noncompliance with this section shall be reportable to
25licensing authorities.

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

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27

SEC. 2.  

Section 128731 is added to the Health and Safety Code,
28to read:

29

128731.  

(a) A licensed general acute care hospital shall, on or
30before July 1, 2016, and every January 1 thereafter, file with the
31office a policy for providing language assistance services to
32patients with language or communication barriers required pursuant
33to paragraph (2) of subdivision (c) of Section 1259.

34(b) The office shall make the hospital policy available to the
35public on the office’s Internet Web site. If another technology
36emerges that replaces Internet Web sites, the office shall make the
37hospital policy available through that subsequent technology.

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38

begin deleteSEC. 3.end delete
39begin insertSEC. 2.end insert  

No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to
40Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because
P6    1the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school
2district will be incurred because this act creates a new crime or
3infraction, eliminates a crime or infraction, or changes the penalty
4for a crime or infraction, within the meaning of Section 17556 of
5the Government Code, or changes the definition of a crime within
6the meaning of Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California
7Constitution.



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