Fetal Tissue Disposal Rule Suspended Until Jan. 6

Over the summer, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) posted draft revisions to its administrative rules on special waste from health care facilities. DSHS adopted the final rules on Dec. 9. Judge Sam Sparks suspended the rule until Jan. 6.

In August and October, TMA and the Texas Hospital Association submitted joint comments requesting clarification on several proposed changes in the rules. 

DSHS addressed a few points raised by TMA, but several areas remain unclear. While scheduled to become effective on Dec. 19, a lawsuit has been filed that may have an impact on implementation. In the interim, physicians should be aware of the following components of the adopted rules: 

  • The adopted rules apply to any termination of pregnancy that occurs within a health care-related facility. 
  • The rules address the disposition of all fetal remains, but they exempt fetal remains that are expelled outside of a health care facility. Other exemptions include fetal tissue used for research, testing, or as requested by a family for interment. 
  • All health care-related facilities will be required to dispose of fetal tissue through interment.
  • Neither birth certificates nor death certificates are required for the proper disposition of fetal tissue that weighs less than 350 grams. 
  • DSHS has assured TMA that neither the patient nor the physician would be responsible for the cost of interment, as these would be the responsibility of the health care facility.

TMA continues to be in contact with DSHS on these rules. Look for updates in future issues of Action.

Action, Dec. 15, 2016

Last Updated On

December 15, 2016

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