The rule clarified patient-notification regulations that mandate how “dedicated emergency departments” must conspicuously post notices if a facility does not have a physician on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The CMS said that medical residents would qualify as physicians and that the notification would apply to all hospitals—not only physician-owned institutions.
Another change was that inpatients and outpatients who receive observation services, surgery or services involving anesthesia must be given written notice that a hospital may not have a physician on-site 24 hours a day and that this would be followed by a signed acknowledgment from the patient of this fact.
In the rule, the CMS responded to a commenter who indicated that this notification could “potentially alarm patients.”
“In the years since the current regulation first took effect, we have not received any feedback of patients being unduly alarmed as a result of receiving notice,” the CMS said in the rule. “We believe consumers have certain expectations concerning availability of care by doctors of medicine or osteopathy in hospitals and (critical-access hospitals), and that, as patients, they have a right to make informed decisions concerning their care … It is important to ensure that patients receive notice when a doctor of medicine or osteopathy is not always on site, and how the hospital ... handles patient emergencies when a doctor of medicine or osteopathy is not present.”