New Jersey state laws and regulations that affect your medical practice
I. GUNSHOT WOUNDS
1. Should gunshot wounds be reported to the proper authorities?
A. Every case of a wound, burn or any other injury arising from or caused by a firearm, destructive device, explosive or weapon shall be reported at once to the police authorities of the municipality where the person reporting is located or to the State Police by the physician consulted, attending or treating the case or the manager, superintendent or other person in charge, whenever such case is presented for treatment or treated in a hospital, sanitarium or other institution. This subsection shall not, however, apply to wounds, burns or injuries received by a member of the armed forces of the United States or the State of New Jersey while engaged in the actual performance of duty.
II. IMPAIRMENT, GROSS INCOMPETENCE OR UNPROFESSIONAL CONDUCT OF ANOTHER PRACTITIONER
1. Should a practitioner report another's impairment, gross incompetence or unprofessional conduct to the State Board of Medical Examiners (SBME)?
A. A health care professional shall promptly notify the division if that health care professional is in possession of information which reasonably indicates that another health care professional has demonstrated an impairment, gross incompetence or unprofessional conduct which would present an imminent danger to an individual patient or to the public health, safety or welfare. A health care professional who fails to so notify the division is subject to disciplinary action and civil penalties.
B. A health care professional shall be deemed to have satisfied the reporting requirement concerning another health care professional's impairment by promptly providing notice to the division, the board or a professional assistance or intervention program approved or designated by the division or a board to provide confidential oversight of the licensee.
C. No private right of action:
(1) There shall be no private right of action against a health care professional for failure to comply with the notification requirements of this section.
(2) There shall be no private right of action against a health care entity if a health care professional who is employed by, under contract to render professional services to, or has privileges granted by, that health care entity, or who provides such services pursuant to an agreement with a health care services firm or staffing registry, fails to comply with the notification requirements of this section.
D. A health care professional who provides notification to the division, board or review panel, in good faith and without malice, about a health care professional who is impaired or grossly incompetent or who has demonstrated unprofessional conduct, pursuant to this section, is not liable for civil damages to any person in any cause of action arising out of the notification.
E. Notwithstanding the provisions of this section to the contrary, a health care professional is not required to provide notification pursuant to this section about an impaired or incompetent health care professional if the health care professional's knowledge of the other health care professional's impairment or incompetence was obtained as a result of rendering treatment to that health care professional.
2. Is there immunity from civil liability for good faith reporting of misconduct?
Yes. A health care entity, health care professional or any other person who provides to the division, a board or the review panel, in good faith and without malice, any information concerning an act by a health care professional which the person has reasonable cause to believe involves misconduct that may be subject to disciplinary action by the division, board or review panel, as applicable, or any information relating to such conduct requested by the division, board or review panel in the exercise of its statutory responsibilities or which may be required by statute, shall not be liable for civil damages in any cause of action arising out of the provision of such information or services.
III. DRUG DEPENDENT PERSONS
1. Should practitioners report drug-dependent persons by reason of use of a controlled dangerous substances?
Yes. Every practitioner, within 24 hours after determining that a person is a drug dependent person by reason of the use of a controlled dangerous substance for purposes other than the treatment of sickness or injury prescribed and administered as authorized by law, shall report such determination verbally or by mail to the Commissioner of the State Department of Health. Such a report by a physician shall be confidential and shall not be admissible in any criminal proceeding. The commissioner, in his discretion, may also treat any other reports submitted under this section as confidential if he determines that it is in the best interest of the drug dependent person and the public health and welfare. A practitioner who fails to make a report required by this section is a disorderly person.
IV. DUTY TO WARN
1. Does a physician have a duty to warn if he or she suspects a patient to have violent tendencies?
A. Any person who is licensed in the State of New Jersey to practice psychology, psychiatry, medicine, nursing, clinical social work or marriage counseling, whether or not compensation is received or expected, is immune from any civil liability for a patient's violent act against another person or against himself unless the practitioner has incurred a duty to warn and protect the potential victim.
B. A duty to warn and protect is incurred when the following conditions exist:
(1) The patient has communicated to that practitioner a threat of imminent, serious physical violence against a readily identifiable individual or against himself and the circumstances are such that a reasonable professional in the practitioner's area of expertise would believe the patient intended to carry out the threat; or
(2) The circumstances are such that a reasonable professional in the practitioner's area of expertise would believe the patient intended to carry out an act of imminent, serious physical violence against a readily identifiable individual or against himself.
C. A licensed practitioner of psychology, psychiatry, medicine, nursing, clinical social work or marriage counseling shall discharge the duty to warn and protect by doing any one or more of the following:
(1) Arranging for the patient to be admitted voluntarily to a psychiatric unit of a general hospital, a short-term care facility, a special psychiatric hospital or a psychiatric facility;
(2) Initiating procedures for involuntary commitment of the patient to a short-term care facility, a special psychiatric hospital or a psychiatric facility;
(3) Advising a local law enforcement authority of the patient's threat and the identity of the intended victim;
(4) Warning the intended victim of the threat, or, in the case of an intended victim who is under the age of 18, warning the parent or guardian of the intended victim; or
(5) If the patient is under the age of 18 and threatens to commit suicide or bodily injury upon himself, warning the parent or guardian of the patient.
D. A practitioner who is licensed in the State of New Jersey to practice psychology, psychiatry, medicine, nursing, clinical social work or marriage counseling who discloses a privileged communication, is immune from civil liability in regard to that disclosure.
2. Does a physician have a duty to warn of a patient's epileptiform seizures?
Yes. Physicians who treat patients, 16 years or older, for recurrent convulsive seizures or for recurrent periods of unconsciousness or for impairment or loss of motor coordination due to conditions such as, but not limited to, epilepsy in any of its forms, when such conditions persist or recur despite medical treatments, shall, within 24 hours after his determination of such fact, report the same to the Director of the Division of Motor Vehicles. The director, in consultation with the State Commissioner of Health, shall prescribe and furnish the forms on which such reports shall be made.
Copyright © Kern Augustine Conroy and Schoppmann, P.C. Used with permission.