Comment Letter to DOH on Photo Identification Badge Draft Proposed Regulations
Last Updated: 7/20/2012
July 20, 2012
Anna Marie Sossong
Deputy Secretary - Quality Assurance
Office of Quality Assurance
Pennsylvania Department of Health
8th Floor West, Health & Welfare Building
625 Forster Street
Harrisburg, PA 17120-0701
RE: Photo Identification Badge Draft Proposed Regulations
Dear Ms. Sossong:
The Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP), on behalf of its members, more than 225 acute and specialty hospitals and health systems, appreciates the opportunity to comment on the Department of Health’s (DOH) photo identification badge draft proposed regulations. Identification of health care personnel ensures patient safety and HAP appreciates DOH’s efforts on this behalf.
Since 1998, with the inclusion of identification badge requirements under Chapter 51 of DOH’s health care facility regulations, Pennsylvania hospitals and health systems have demonstrated compliance to ensure patient safety. Our comments are focused on those areas of substantive change from existing regulations.
Providing identification badges is also an investment in time and financial resources for health care facilities. As hospitals have increasingly used the identification badges to meet other meaningful and useful purposes related to patient care, the replacement costs for an employee identification badge have increased. Therefore, HAP believes that Pennsylvania’s hospitals require flexibility to determine how best to identify their employees, as well as, the ability to design identification badges that enable other important purposes that also improve care effectiveness and patient safety.
We first want to address the definitions section within the draft proposed regulations before identifying the two issues that HAP has significant concern with. There are two definitions—outside of the health care facility or employment agency and private practice of a physician—that HAP feels do not need to be included in the regulations. HAP understands that DOH is trying to define which facilities or entity they are addressing; however, these terms are not used within the draft proposed regulations. Additionally, these draft proposed regulations encompass every health care entity and the law provides for the applicability dates and differentiates which providers are included. Therefore, clearly HAP believes that these definitions need to be removed from the regulations.
There are two issues regarding the draft proposed regulations which HAP has significant concerns: First, HAP opposes the requirement contained in the draft proposed regulations that mandates that photos be renewed every four years. Establishing this requirement because it is consistent with the requirements for photographic driver’s licenses is not an appropriate justification. Individuals pay for the privilege of having a driver’s license. Hospitals bear the cost of providing identification badges to their employees. Mandating such a time period when photos need to be updated without any documented evidence that this four-year update improves patient safety would impose an undue financial and administrative burden on health care organizations. HAP believes it is more appropriate for DOH to require hospitals to establish clear policies regarding when photos need to be updated, including but not limited to, a change in name, title, or job, and for such policies to include reasonable time frames to ensure currency of photo identification.
Second, HAP has concerns regarding personal security as a result of the full name requirement included in the draft proposed regulations. The concern lies with patients that have no history of irrationality or violence, but can become this way during their visit or in a future visit. With the increased use of social media and availability of personal information on the Internet or other sources, it is of utmost importance that DOH recognizes the need to protect both Pennsylvania’s patients and health care providers. Because of these concerns, HAP respectfully requests that DOH consider allowing facilities to establish policies outlining the circumstances when employees will list only the employee’s first name and last initial on the identification badge. Additionally, HAP believes that DOH should include an exceptions process to allow for any unique circumstances that may arise.
HAP appreciates the opportunity to provide comments on the identification badge regulations. If you have any questions about HAP’s comments, please feel free to contact Mary Marshall, director, workforce and professional services, at (717) 561-5312; or me, at (717) 561-5344.
PAULA A. BUSSARD
Senior Vice President
Policy and Regulatory Services