42 Proposals for Change Accepted
BALTIMORE, MD (June 5, 2012) - In April 2011, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) launched the Department's Task Force on Regulatory Efficiency to identify regulatory improvements and make service to Maryland residents more efficient and effective. Today, the Task Force issues a final report after a review process that included a public comment period and release of an interim report.
The goal of the evaluation was to identify suggestions to improve regulation of skilled nursing facilities, assisted living homes, community mental health programs, programs serving individuals with developmental disabilities, and substance abuse treatment programs. Out of 73 proposals received, 42 of the suggestions move forward for implementation or further review.
"The Task Force is to be commended for its comprehensive evaluation of the public's suggestions for streamlining the regulatory process," said DHMH Secretary Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein. "We now move to the next phase of making these proposals a reality."
The Task Force supports 42 of the 73 proposals in the final report - 30 have been included in the Governor's Executive Order promoting regulatory efficiency, two are being implemented by DHMH, and ten are undergoing additional review.
Proposals included in the Governor's Executive Order include:
- Waiving the requirement that the construction of new nursing homes must be approved by DHMH. Current regulations that require nursing facilities to get prior approval from DHMH for construction are onerous and unnecessary.
- Allowing wireless call bell systems, instead of hard wired systems, in skilled nursing facilities. This will allow modern systems to be implemented to benefit facility residents.
- Permitting clinicians in skilled nursing facilities to use electronic signatures rather than hand-written signatures for progress notes and medication orders. This will clarify that modern, efficient electronic medical record systems are encouraged in skilled nursing facilities.
Proposals to be implemented by the Department:
- Allowing patients to return unused medications. This will help reduce health care costs at nursing homes by enabling the appropriate re-use of returned medications.
- Requiring substance abuse treatment programs to report discharge information in the SMART system. Regulations for substance abuse treatment providers will be updated to ensure that the information that is required to be reported to the state is consistent with the information that is reported in SMART, the state's electronic reporting system.
Proposals requiring additional review by the Department include:
- Streamlining the application process for community mental health programs. Current regulations require entities with multiple program sites to submit an application for each site, and the Department will explore the merits and feasibility of enabling these entities to submit a single application for multiple sites.
- Updating the clinical assessment of residents entering assisted living facilities to reflect the Nurse Practice Act. This will reduce costly and time-consuming assessments and clarify that registered nurses, under the Nurse Practice Act, are permitted to perform the assessment.
- Altering requirements that skilled nursing facilities notify the state about individuals with conjunctivitis and other conditions. Current regulations may be overly prescriptive with respect to conditions that do not require this level of surveillance or precaution.
The Task Force is co-chaired by Patrick Dooley, Chief of Staff at DHMH, and Mark Luckner, Executive Director, Community Health Resources Commission. Also participating are senior Department staff from all relevant divisions.
To read the Task Force Final Report, visit Regulatory Reform under 'Hot Topics' at www.dhmh.maryland.gov.