In the most recent legislative session, the Virginia General Assembly enacted several laws which affect health care professionals. Below is a summary of the most significant legislative acts. Each of these acts became effective on July 1, 2009.
House Bill 2057 expands the list of expressions of sympathy contained in Virginia Code sections 8.01-52.1 and 8.01-581.20:1 which are inadmissible in medical malpractice actions, arbitrations or related medical review panel proceedings. This new legislation confirms that any expressions of sympathy or apology relating to the provisioning of health care services are inadmissible as evidence of an admission of liability. However, it should be noted that this revision did not affect the admissibility of statements of fault made in connection with an apology or expression of sympathy.
Senate Bill 1275 revised Virginia Codes section 8.01-399 only slightly; however, the revision significantly impacts the nature of a health care provider’s duty to protect patient confidences. Senate Bill 1275 confirms that a treating health care professional is required to retain client confidences. Under the prior version of the relevant legislation, a health care provider could not be required to divulge patient information but could do so voluntarily. It is now confirmed that the duty to retain a patient’s confidentiality is a statutory obligation.
Finally, Senate Bill 1154 revised Virginia Code section 8.01-413 to require health care providers to provide patients with account balances and itemized listings of charges at no cost to the patient up to three times per year. This obligation arises whenever documents are requested in writing by the patient or their attorney.