March 1, 2019

Senator Benson Champions Patients’ Bill of Rights Legislation

In a Thursday afternoon hearing of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Joanne Benson (District 24 – Prince George’s County) introduced legislation that would require Maryland hospitals to present patients with a uniform list of the rights afforded to them as patients. According to the legislation, its’ aim is to: “promote the health, safety, and well-being of patients and to foster better communication between patients and healthcare providers in hospitals through the use of a patient’s bill of rights that specifies the ethical and humane treatment the patient has a right to expect.”

“A patient should never have to worry that the quality of care is different based on the zip code of their hospital,” said Senator Benson. She followed: “This legislation would require a uniform standard for hospitals and require the ethical and humane treatment of patients by hospitals.”

Benson cited a need for the legislation based on recent independent rankings listing Maryland as 48th among the 50 states for patient safety. The hearing also brought out that current related state legislation has not been updated in over forty years (since 1978) and that some twenty-seven states have already enacted sturdy Patients’ Bills of Rights legislation throughout the United States.

Joining Senator Benson in her sponsorship of the legislation are ten Senate co-sponsors including Senators Carter (District 41 – Baltimore City), Feldman (District 15 – Montgomery County), King (District 39 – Montgomery County), Klausmeier (District 8 – Baltimore County), Lam (District 12 – Baltimore and Howard Counties), Lee (District 16 – Montgomery County), Nathan-Pulliam (District 44 – Baltimore City and Baltimore County), Smith (District 20 – Montgomery County), Washington (District 43 – Baltimore City), and Young (District 3 – Frederick County).

Senate Bill 301 is cross-filed in the House of Delegates with House Bill 145 and sponsored by Delegate Karen Lewis Young (District 3A – Frederick County). House Bill 145 was heard before the House Health and Government Operations Committee on February 6th and currently awaits a vote in that committee. Similarly Senate Bill 301 also awaits a vote in its committee of origin, the Senate Finance Committee. All legislation must successfully pass both the Maryland Senate and the Maryland House of Delegates by Sine Die on Monday, April 8th to be sent to Governor Hogan to be approved or vetoed.

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