Previously on the Fox Rothschild Physician Law Blog, we reported on the July 2015 amendments to the PA Child Protective Services Law. See our August 31, 2015 post here: What You Need to Know about PA’s Child Protective Services Law. In particular, we noted that the PA Medical Society interpreted the amendments to the Law as requiring all health care practitioners and practice staff having direct contact with children to obtain child abuse clearances.
After further review of the Law and consultation with the PA Department of Human Services (DHS), the PA Medical Society issued a retraction of its prior statement. On December 1, 2015, the PA Medical Society reported that it had confirmed with the DHS that physicians and other employees of a medical practice or hospital (including administrative employees) are not required to obtain child abuse clearances under the Law. See the PA Medical Society’s Clarification here: PA Medical Society Child Abuse Clearances Clarification.
Although the Law used to require physicians (and other health care practitioners) to obtain child abuse clearances, the July amendments to the Law limited the clearance requirement to certain programs, activities and services. As a result, a long-standing rule that physicians must obtain child abuse clearances appears to have been eliminated.
In our post, we also reported that the PA Department of Health (DOH), which licenses hospitals and other health care facilities, had continued to require such facilities to ensure that their health care practitioners obtained child abuse clearances, even after the amendments were passed. The DOH has not yet confirmed its position on the Law after the recent clarification by the DHS.
While the Law appears not to require health care practitioners to obtain child abuse clearances in Pennsylvania, be sure to consult your legal counsel before making an administrative decision for your practice or health care facility.