February 12, 2015 – “Observation Status”

The Legislature considered two identical bills concerning a hospital’s  duty to notify a patient when they are on “observation” status only and have not been formally admitted to a hospital.  Advocates for the elderly and for people with disabilities noted that some hospitals have a practice of placing patients on  “observation” status, rather than officially admitting the person to the hospital.  This can happen even if the patient is in the hospital overnight or for several days.  The practice results in confusion for the patient (who may think they have been admitted) and sometime carries serious financial consequences with insurance and later nursing home admission.

The two bills that were before the state Legislature required the hospital to inform patients who have not been admitted that they are only on observation status.

HB 1509 (Sullivan) was killed in a subcommittee of House committee on Health Welfare and Institutions.  However, SB 750 (Black), an identical bill, was approved by the full Senate and has been approved by a subcommittee of House HWI.  It will be before the full HWI committee on Tuesday, February 17.

The disAbility Law Center of Virginia monitors developments in the legislature that may be of interest to people with disabilities.  Our mission is, through zealous and effective advocacy and legal representation, to protect and advance the legal, human and civil rights of people with disabilities, to combat and prevent abuse, neglect and discrimination, and to promote independence, choice and self-determination by persons with disabilities.