Texas Medical Records Law Provisions Eased

The 2013 regular session of the Texas Legislature brought relief from some burdensome provisions of Texas’ medical record privacy law. Senate bills 1609 and 1610 alter the privacy training requirements and breach notification requirements, respectively.

TMA supported these changes to reduce red tape hassles for physician practices. The new provisions of the law are now in effect.

Under Senate Bill 1609:

  • Practices have additional flexibility to determine the format of the privacy training required by Texas law (previously, there was some concern that the law’s prior language potentially could have been interpreted to require a more prescribed and formal program, such as attendance at a live-training seminar or webinar).
  • New employees must be trained on state and federal law concerning protected health information within 90 days of hire (was 60 days).
  • If the duties of an employee are affected by a material change in state or federal law concerning protected health information, the employee must be trained within a reasonable period, but not later than one year after the date the material change in law takes effect (was every two years for all employees regardless of whether there was any material change in law affecting that employee’s duties).
  • Practices must retain each employee’s signed verification-of-training statement for six years (was unspecified and potentially could have been interpreted as indefinitely).

Senate Bill 1610 amends the Texas law that requires a physician to notify patients when the security of their protected health information has been breached. The bill:

  • Sets a single Texas standard for the elements for compliance with Texas’ breach notification law, regardless of the state of the patient’s residency (instead of having to comply with the other state’s law in order to be compliant with Texas law).  
  • Allows physicians to send a written notice to a patient’s last known address (previously, the law didn’t specify what address was acceptable).

 If you have questions, contact the TMA Knowledge Center at (800) 880-7955 or knowledge@texmed.org.

 NOTICE: The Texas Medical Association provides this information with the express understanding that 1) no attorney-client relationship exists, 2) neither TMA nor its attorneys are engaged in providing legal advice and 3) that the information is of a general character. This is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. While every effort is made to ensure that content is complete, accurate and timely, TMA cannot guarantee the accuracy and totality of the information contained in this publication and assumes no legal responsibility for loss or damages resulting from the use of this content. You should not rely on this information when dealing with personal legal matters; rather legal advice from retained legal counsel should be sought.

Published July 9, 2013


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