New hospital licensing rules call for the collection of hospital policies in four areas:
- End-of-life, and
- Reproductive health care.
See the memorandum from the Department of Health here.
Patients are encouraged to view the policies and talk with their providers. It’s important for patients to understand that policies can’t give the complete picture on what services are available, because policies don’t provide the services: people do.
For example, a hospital may have a policy that allows voluntary terminations of pregnancy (abortion), but doctors, nurses and other staff may not be willing to provide abortions, and by law, they cannot be forced to do so. The state’s Death With Dignity law has the same conscience clause for providers, ensuring that no provider will be forced to provide the service. That is why it is so important for patients, families and care providers to discuss what services are necessary, desired and available.
The OFM report suggests that the DOH track service delivery. This is a position WSHA has taken as well. This will provide more useful information to patients.