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OPRA - Open Public Records Act
NEW JERSEY REGISTER
RULE PROPOSALS
VOLUME 41, ISSUE 16
ISSUE DATE: AUGUST 17, 2009
LAW AND PUBLIC SAFETY
DIVISION OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS
STATE BOARD OF VETERINARY MEDICAL EXAMINERS

 

Proposed Amendments: N.J.A.C. 13:44-4.9

Patient Records

Authorized By: State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners, Leslie Aronson, Executive Director.

Authority: N.J.S.A. 45:16-3.

Calendar Reference: See Summary below for explanation of exception to calendar requirement.

Proposal Number: PRN 2009-250.

Submit comments by October 16, 2009 to:

Leslie Aronson, Executive Director

State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners

PO Box 45020

Newark, NJ 07101

The agency proposal follows:

Summary

On December 3, 2007, at 39 N.J.R. 5054(a), the State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (Board) proposed amendments to N.J.A.C. 13:44-4.9. One of the comments received by the Board on these proposed amendments raised concerns with the Board's proposed requirements for the handling of records when a licensee closes a practice. The commenter contended that these requirements were unduly burdensome in that they required licensees who close their practices to notify the owner of every patient that has been treated by the licensee over the past five years. The Board agreed with the commenter that the proposed requirements were unduly burdensome and did not adopt the proposed amendments to N.J.A.C. 13:44-4.9(i), which contained those provisions. The Board now proposes new amendments to N.J.A.C. 13:44-4.9(i) that set forth how a licensee, or his or her executor, must handle records when a practice closes permanently or for more than six months. A licensee, or his or her executor, must establish a procedure by which patient owners may retrieve records, or consent to the transfer of records to another licensee; publish notification of closure in a local paper; notify the Board and owners of patients treated within the last six months of the closure; post the procedure for record retrieval at the practice and store records that have not be retrieved for one year from the date the practice closes.

As the Board has provided a 60-day comment period on this notice of proposal, this notice is excepted from the rulemaking calendar requirement pursuant to N.J.A.C. 1:30-3.3(a)5.

Social Impact

The Board believes that the proposed amendment will have a positive impact on patient owners by ensuring that they will be able to have access to patient records when a practice closes permanently or for more than six months. It will also benefit licensees by providing clear guidelines to follow when a practice closes.

Economic Impact

The proposed amendment to N.J.A.C. 13:44-4.9 establishes a procedure for patient owners to obtain patient records, it requires a licensee, or his or her executor, to publish a notice of cessation if a practice is not being taken over by another licensee. Licensees and executors are also required to make efforts to notify owners of patients seen by the licensee within the last six months and to arrange for the storage of records that have not be retrieved for one year. The licensee, or his or her executor, will bear the costs of complying with these requirements.

Federal Standards Statement

A Federal standards analysis is not required because there are no Federal laws or standards applicable to the proposed amendment.

Jobs Impact

The Board does not believe that the proposed amendment will increase or decrease the number of jobs in New Jersey.

Agriculture Industry Impact

The proposed amendment to N.J.A.C. 13:44-4.9 may have an impact on the agriculture industry as they set forth how records, including those kept for agricultural animals, may be obtained by patient owners when a licensee closes his or her practice. The proposed amendment will benefit the agriculture industry by making it easier to obtain such records.

Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

If, for purposes of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, N.J.S.A. 52:14B-16 et seq., licensed veterinarians are deemed "small businesses," then the following analysis applies.

The costs imposed on small businesses are the same as those imposed on all businesses as set forth in the Economic Impact above. The Board does not believe that licensees will need to employ any professional services to comply with the proposed amendment. The proposed amendment imposes compliance, reporting and recordkeeping requirements as set forth in the Summary above.

As the proposed amendment provides for the retrieval of patient records when a veterinary practice closes permanently or for more than six months, the Board believes that the proposed amendment must be applied uniformly to all licensees regardless of the size of the business.

Smart Growth Impact

The Board does not anticipate that the proposed amendment will have any impact on the achievement of smart growth and implementation of the State Development and Redevelopment Plan, otherwise known as the State Plan.

Housing Affordability Impact

The proposed amendment will have an insignificant impact on affordable housing in New Jersey and there is an extreme unlikelihood that the rule would evoke a change in the average costs associated with housing because the proposed rule concerns recordkeeping requirements for licensed veterinarians.

Smart Growth Development Impact

The proposed amendment will have an insignificant impact on smart growth and there is an extreme unlikelihood that the rule would evoke a change in housing production in Planning Areas 1 or 2 or within designated centers under the State Development and Redevelopment Plan in New Jersey because the proposed rule concerns recordkeeping requirements for licensed veterinarians.

Full text of the rules proposal follows (additions indicated in boldface thus; deletions indicated in brackets [thus]):

SUBCHAPTER 4. GENERAL RULES OF PRACTICE

13:44-4.9 Patient records

(a)-(h) (No change.)

(i) Whenever a veterinary practice is to be closed due to the retirement or death of the veterinarian in charge, or the practice will be closed for more than six consecutive months, the [following shall apply] licensee or the executor or administrator of the licensee's estate shall:

[1. The retiring licensee or the executor or administrator of the licensee's estate shall immediately notify the Board, in writing, of the impending closure.

2. If the medical records are not to be transferred to another veterinary practice, the retiring licensee or the executor or administrator of the licensee's estate shall, prior to disposing of any records and within a reasonable period of time, publicize notice of closing of the veterinary practice. The notice of closing shall be published in a daily newspaper with circulation in the county in which the veterinary practice is located, on two occasions, 15 days apart. The notice shall advise the public of the licensee's retirement or death; shall indicate that the medical records will be available to the client for a period of 60 days subsequent to the second publication; and shall include the name, address and telephone number of the person to contact to obtain the medical records.

[page=3027] 3. If the medical records are to be transferred to another veterinary practice, the retiring licensee or the executor or administrator of the licensee's estate may transfer the medical records provided that he or she shall, prior to the transfer, publish notice of closing of the veterinary practice. Such notice shall be published in a daily newspaper with circulation in the county in which the veterinary practice is located, on two occasions, 15 days apart. The notice shall advise the public of the licensee's retirement or death and indicate the name, address and telephone number of the veterinary practice to which the records will be transferred.]

1. Establish a procedure by which patients may obtain treatment records or agree to the transfer of those records to another licensee who is assuming the responsibilities of that practice;

2. If the practice will not be attended by another licensee, publish a notice of the cessation and the established procedure for the retrieval of records in a newspaper of general circulation in the geographic location of the licensee's practice, at least once each month for the first three months after the cessation;

3. Notify the Board, in writing, of the impending closure and the established procedure for the retrieval of records;

4. Make reasonable efforts to directly notify the owner of any patient treated during the six months preceding the cessation of the practice to provide information concerning the established procedure for retrieval of records;

5. Conspicuously post a notice on the premises of the procedure for the retrieval of records for at least one month prior to the cessation of the practice; and

6. Arrange for the storage of any records that have not been retrieved by patient owners for one year from the date the practice closes.

   
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