|Posted by [email protected] on October 14, 2014 at 4:35 AM|
Below is the communication from Don Balasa JD MBA, legal counsel for the AAMA.
Linda, here is some information from my colleague at AMT:
New Hampshire – Medical Technician registration bill
On May 15, 2014, the New Hampshire Senate passed House Bill 658, a bill creating a mandatory registry for “medical technicians” in that state. The House of Representatives had passed the bill in March. The bill was expected to be signed by the Governor.
HB 658 grew out of an incident several years ago when a technician employed by a New Hampshire hospital created a public health crisis by stealing painkiller shots and replacing them with saline-filled syringes tainted with his hepatitis C-infected blood. David Kwiatkowski, 35, was a cardiac technologist in 18 hospitals in seven states before being hired at New Hampshire's Exeter Hospital in 2011. He had moved from job to job despite being fired at least four times over allegations of drug use and theft. Since his arrest in 2012, at least 46 people in four states have been diagnosed with the same strain of hepatitis C he carries. He pled guilty last August to 16 federal drug charges and was sentenced in December to 39 years in prison.
Public outrage over the fact that the technician had repeatedly managed to move from one job to another despite his sordid employment history led to the introduction of HB 658. The bill establishes a new Board of Registration of Medical Technicians which will be attached to the NH Department of Health and Human Services. The bill requires persons employed as medical technicians to register with the board. The bill also requires licensed health care facilities employing such technicians to ensure that they are registered in accordance with the new law.
The bill defines “medical technician” as “a health care worker who is not licensed or registered by a New Hampshire regulatory board and who assists licensed health care professionals in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease. For the purposes of this chapter, medical technicians shall be limited to health care workers with access to controlled substances and with access to or contact with patients in a health care facility or in a medical establishment.”
The term “medical establishment” includes a physician’s office, clinic, laboratory or place where medicine is practiced that is not otherwise licensed as a health care facility under NH law.
Under the new law, anyone who wants to be employed as a medical technician must be registered with the Board, and the application for registration can be an onerous process. A completed application must include a notarized criminal history background, the applicant’s employment history for the past 10 years, a set of fingerprints obtained by an authorized officer, and payment of a $110 non-refundable fee. The Board must conduct a criminal background check on the applicant before granting registration.
Persons who work as medical technicians without obtaining registration, and employers who hire such persons, are subject to civil penalties including fines of $3,000 per offense, or, in the case of continuing offenses, $300 for each day that the violation continues, whichever is greater.
It remains to be seen whether the new NH law will have a significant impact on MTs , MLTs, medical assistants, phlebotomists, and other allied health personnel certified by AMT. The broad definitions of “medical technician” and “medical establishment” may make employers wary and cause them to err on the side of caution. Despite the legislation’s good intentions, depending on how it is interpreted, its implementation could prove a nightmare for employers and allied health workers.
Linda, the following language in the legislation would seem to exclude the vast majority of medical assistants:
VI. “Medical technician” means a health care worker who is not licensed or registered by a
16 New Hampshire regulatory board and who assists licensed health care professionals in the
17 diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease. For the purposes of this chapter, medical
18 technicians shall be limited to health care workers with access to controlled substances and with
19 access to or contact with patients in a health care facility or in a medical establishment.
It would seem that clinics and physician offices could adopt a policy that their medical assistants will not have access to controlled substances. As a result, this law would not apply to medical assistants working in those settings.
I hope this is helpful, Linda. It is now important to monitor any rules that the NH Department of Health and Human Services will be issuing to implement this legislation. Would it be possible for you or one of your colleagues from the leadership team of the New Hampshire SMA to establish contact with the NG DHHS?
Donald A. Balasa, JD, MBA
Executive Director, Legal Counsel
American Association of Medical Assistants
Ph: 800/228-2262 | Fax: 312/899-1259 | www.aama-ntl.org
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