Texas Health and Safety Code

As effective September 1, 2019

Subtitle A

Chapter 671

Subchapter A

Sec. 671.001: Standard Used in Determining Death

(a) A person is dead when, according to ordinary standards of medical practice, there is irreversible cessation of the person's spontaneous respiratory and circulatory functions.

(b) If artificial means of support preclude a determination that a person's spontaneous respiratory and circulatory functions have ceased, the person is dead when, in the announced opinion of a physician, according to ordinary standards of medical practice, there is irreversible cessation of all spontaneous brain function. Death occurs when the relevant functions cease.

(c) Death must be pronounced before artificial means of supporting a person's respiratory and circulatory functions are terminated.

(d) A registered nurse, including an advanced practice registered nurse, or physician assistant may determine and pronounce a person dead in situations other than those described by Subsection (b) if permitted by written policies of a licensed health care facility, institution, or entity providing services to that person. Those policies must include physician assistants who are credentialed or otherwise permitted to practice at the facility, institution, or entity. If the facility, institution, or entity has an organized nursing staff and an organized medical staff or medical consultant, the nursing staff and medical staff or consultant shall jointly develop and approve those policies. The executive commissioner of the Health and Human Services Commission shall adopt rules to govern policies for facilities, institutions, or entities that do not have organized nursing staffs and organized medical staffs or medical consultants.

Comments

Acts 1989, 71st Leg., ch. 678, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1989. Amended by Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 201, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1991; Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 965, Sec. 8, eff. June 16, 1995.

Amended by:

Acts 2015, 84th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1 (S.B. 219), Sec. 3.1501, eff. April 2, 2015.

Acts 2017, 85th Leg., R.S., Ch. 412 (S.B. 919), Sec. 2, eff. June 1, 2017.

Acts 2017, 85th Leg., R.S., Ch. 509 (H.B. 2950), Sec. 2, eff. September 1, 2017.

Sec. 671.002: Limitation of Liability

(a) A physician who determines death in accordance with Section 671.001(b) or a registered nurse, including an advanced practice registered nurse, or physician assistant who determines death in accordance with Section 671.001(d) is not liable for civil damages or subject to criminal prosecution for the physician's, registered nurse's, or physician assistant's actions or the actions of others based on the determination of death.

(b) A person who acts in good faith in reliance on a physician's, registered nurse's, or physician assistant's determination of death is not liable for civil damages or subject to criminal prosecution for the person's actions.

Comments

Acts 1989, 71st Leg., ch. 678, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1989. Amended by Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 201, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1991; Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 965, Sec. 9, eff. June 16, 1995.

Amended by:

Acts 2017, 85th Leg., R.S., Ch. 412 (S.B. 919), Sec. 3, eff. June 1, 2017.

Acts 2017, 85th Leg., R.S., Ch. 509 (H.B. 2950), Sec. 3, eff. September 1, 2017.

Subchapter B

Sec. 671.011: Definition

(a) In this subchapter, "autopsy report" includes:

(1) the report of the postmortem examination of the body of a person, including x-rays and photographs taken during the actual postmortem examination; and

(2) the toxicology report, if any, and other reports that involve an examination of the internal organs and structures of the body after dissection.

(b) An autopsy report does not include investigative reports and other documents that the physician performing the autopsy may review to assist in determining the cause of death.

Comments

Added by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 607, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1999.

Sec. 671.012: Filing Autopsy Report

A designated physician who performs an autopsy provided for by state law shall file an autopsy report with the office designated by the autopsy order not later than the 30th day after the date of request for the autopsy unless:

(1) a required test cannot be completed within that time; and

(2) the physician certifies when the autopsy report is filed that a required test could not be completed within the 30-day limit.

Comments

Acts 1989, 71st Leg., ch. 678, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1989. Renumbered from Health & Safety Code Sec. 671.011 by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 607, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1999.

Sec. 671.013: Release of Reports; Fees

(a) An autopsy report shall be released on request to an authorized person in connection with the determination of the cause of death in relation to a workers' compensation or insurance claim.

(b) A person who receives information under Subsection (a) may disclose the information to others only to the extent consistent with the authorized purposes for which the information was obtained.

(c) The commissioners court of the county having custody of an autopsy report shall establish a fee to be charged for a copy of the autopsy report as follows:

(1) for written portions of the report, an amount reasonably necessary to recover the cost of providing the copy, not to exceed $25; and

(2) for x-rays and photographs, the actual cost of reproduction, including the reasonable cost of overhead.

(d) Except as provided by Subsection (e), an autopsy report released in connection with the determination of the cause of death in relation to a workers' compensation claim under Subsection (a) shall be released not later than the 15th business day after the date the request is received from the authorized person.

(e) If the report has not been filed as provided by Section 671.012, a representative of the office designated by the autopsy order shall, not later than the 10th business day after the date of the request, notify the requesting person that the report has not been filed and of the date, to the best of the knowledge of the representative, that the requesting person may anticipate receiving the report.

Comments

Acts 1989, 71st Leg., ch. 678, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1989. Renumbered from Health & Safety Code Sec. 671.012 and amended by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 607, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1999.

Amended by:

Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 1190 (H.B. 251), Sec. 2, eff. June 18, 2005.

Chapter 671A

Sec. 671A.001: Definition

In this chapter, "private autopsy facility" means a facility that is owned or operated by a physician who performs autopsy services for a fee or that employs a physician to perform autopsy services for a fee, including autopsy services performed on the order of a justice of the peace. The term does not include a medical examiner's office.

Comments

Added by Acts 2011, 82nd Leg., R.S., Ch. 374 (S.B. 256), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2011.

Sec. 671A.002: Notice for Complaints Required

(a) A private autopsy facility shall post a notice in a conspicuous place in a public area of the facility that substantially complies with the notice published by the Texas Medical Board under this section.

(b) The notice must state in English and in Spanish that a person may file with the Texas Medical Board a complaint against a physician who performs autopsy services and must include the appropriate mailing address and telephone number of the Texas Medical Board for filing complaints against physicians.

(c) The Texas Medical Board by rule shall adopt a sample form of the notice. The board shall publish the notice on the board's Internet website.

Comments

Added by Acts 2011, 82nd Leg., R.S., Ch. 374 (S.B. 256), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2011.

Sec. 671A.003: Criminal Penalty for Failure to Post Notice

(a) A private autopsy facility commits an offense if the facility fails to post the notice required by this chapter.

(b) An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor.

Comments

Added by Acts 2011, 82nd Leg., R.S., Ch. 374 (S.B. 256), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2011.

Chapter 672

Sec. 672.001: Definitions

In this chapter:

(1) "Abuse" means:

(A) the negligent or wilful infliction of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation, or cruel punishment with resulting emotional or physical harm leading to death; or

(B) sexual abuse of an adult, including any involuntary or nonconsensual sexual conduct that would constitute an offense under Section 21.08, Penal Code, or Chapter 22, Penal Code.

(2) "Autopsy" and "inquest" have the meanings assigned by Article 49.01, Code of Criminal Procedure.

(3) "Family violence" has the meaning assigned by Section 71.004, Family Code.

(4) "Health care provider" means any health care practitioner or facility that provides medical evaluation or treatment, including dental and mental health evaluation or treatment.

(5) "Review" means a reexamination of information regarding a deceased adult from relevant agencies, professionals, and health care providers.

(6) "Review team" means an unexpected fatality review team established under this chapter.

(7) "Unexpected death" includes a death of an adult that before investigation appears:

(A) to have occurred without anticipation or forewarning; and

(B) to have been caused by suicide, family violence, or abuse.

Comments

Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1486, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

Sec. 672.002: Establishment of Review Team

(a) A multidisciplinary and multiagency unexpected fatality review team may be established for a county to conduct reviews of unexpected deaths that occur within the county. A review team for a county with a population of less than 50,000 may join with an adjacent county or counties to establish a combined review team.

(b) The commissioners court of a county may oversee the activities of the review team or may designate a county department to oversee those activities. The commissioners court may designate a nonprofit agency or a political subdivision of the state involved in the support or treatment of victims of family violence, abuse, or suicide to oversee the activities of the review team if the governing body of the nonprofit agency or political subdivision concurs.

(c) Any person who may be a member of a review team under Subsection (d) may initiate the establishment of a review team and call the first organizational meeting of the team.

(d) A review team may include:

(1) a criminal prosecutor involved in prosecuting crimes involving family violence;

(2) a peace officer;

(3) a justice of the peace or medical examiner;

(4) a public health professional;

(5) a representative of the Department of Family and Protective Services engaged in providing adult protective services;

(6) a mental health services provider;

(7) a representative of the family violence shelter center providing services to the county;

(8) the victim witness advocate in the county prosecutor's office;

(9) a representative from the battering intervention and prevention program for the county; and

(10) a community supervision and corrections department officer.

(e) Members of a review team may select additional team members according to community resources and needs.

(f) A review team shall select a presiding officer from its members.

(g) Members selected under Subsection (e) must reflect the geographical, cultural, racial, ethnic, and gender diversity of the county or counties represented.

(h) Members selected under this section should have experience in abuse, neglect, suicide, family violence, or elder abuse.

Comments

Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1486, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

Amended by:

Acts 2015, 84th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1 (S.B. 219), Sec. 3.1502, eff. April 2, 2015.

Sec. 672.003: Purpose and Powers of Review Team

(a) The purpose of a review team is to decrease the incidence of preventable adult deaths by:

(1) promoting cooperation, communication, and coordination among agencies involved in responding to unexpected deaths;

(2) developing an understanding of the causes and incidence of unexpected deaths in the county or counties in which the review team is located; and

(3) advising the legislature, appropriate state agencies, and local law enforcement agencies on changes to law, policy, or practice that will reduce the number of unexpected deaths.

(b) To achieve its purpose, a review team shall:

(1) develop and implement, according to local needs and resources, appropriate protocols;

(2) meet on a regular basis to review fatality cases suspected to have resulted from suicide, family violence, or abuse and recommend methods to improve coordination of services and investigations between agencies that are represented on the team;

(3) collect and maintain data, as appropriate; and

(4) submit the report required under Section 672.008.

Comments

Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1486, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

Sec. 672.004: Duties of Presiding Officer

The presiding officer of a review team may:

(1) send notices to the review team members of a meeting to review a fatality involving suspected suicide, family violence, or abuse;

(2) provide a list to the review team members of each fatality to be reviewed at the meeting; and

(3) ensure that the review team operates according to the protocols developed by the review team.

Comments

Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1486, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

Sec. 672.005: Review Procedure

(a) The review team of the county in which the event that was the cause of the unexpected death occurred, as stated on the death certificate or as otherwise indicated by the medical examiner or justice of the peace notified of the death, may review the death.

(b) On receipt of the list of fatalities under Section 672.004, each review team member shall review available records for information regarding each listed unexpected death.

Comments

Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1486, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

Sec. 672.006: Access to Information

(a) A review team may request information and records regarding adult deaths resulting from suicide, family violence, or abuse as necessary to carry out the review team's purpose and duties. Records and information that may be requested under this section include:

(1) medical, dental, and mental health care information; and

(2) information and records maintained by any state or local government agency, including:

(A) a birth certificate;

(B) law enforcement investigative data;

(C) medical examiner investigative data;

(D) juvenile court records;

(E) parole and probation information and records; and

(F) adult protective services information and records.

(b) On request of the presiding officer of a review team, the custodian of the relevant information or records relating to the deceased adult shall provide the information or records to the review team. A law enforcement agency or a medical examiner may decline to provide investigative data to a review team until after the conclusion of the investigation.

(c) This section does not authorize the release of the original or copies of the mental health or medical records of any member of the deceased adult's family, the guardian or caretaker of the deceased adult, or an alleged or suspected perpetrator of family violence or abuse of the adult that are in the possession of any state or local government agency as provided in Subsection (a)(2). Information relating to the mental health or medical condition of a member of the deceased adult's family, the guardian or caretaker of the deceased adult, or the alleged or suspected perpetrator of family violence or abuse of the deceased adult acquired as part of an investigation by a state or local government agency as provided in Subsection (a)(2) may be provided to the review team.

(d) This section does not authorize any interference with a criminal investigation, inquest, or autopsy.

Comments

Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1486, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

Sec. 672.007: Meeting of Review Team

(a) A meeting of a review team is closed to the public and not subject to the open meetings law, Chapter 551, Government Code.

(b) This section does not prohibit a review team from requesting the attendance at a closed meeting of a person who is not a member of the review team and who has information regarding a fatality resulting from suicide, family violence, or abuse.

(c) Except as necessary to carry out a review team's purpose and duties, members of a review team and persons attending a review team meeting may not disclose what occurred at the meeting.

Comments

Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1486, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

Sec. 672.008: Report

(a) Not later than December 15 of each even-numbered year, each review team shall submit to the Department of Family and Protective Services a report on deaths reviewed.

(b) Subject to Section 672.009, the Department of Family and Protective Services shall make the reports received under Subsection (a) available to the public.

Comments

Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1486, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

Amended by:

Acts 2015, 84th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1 (S.B. 219), Sec. 3.1503, eff. April 2, 2015.

Sec. 672.009: Use of Information and Records; Confidentiality

(a) Information and records acquired by a review team in the exercise of its purpose and duties under this chapter are confidential and exempt from disclosure under the open records law, Chapter 552, Government Code, and may only be disclosed as necessary to carry out the review team's purpose and duties.

(b) A report of a review team or a statistical compilation of data reports is a public record subject to the open records law, Chapter 552, Government Code, as if the review team were a governmental body under that chapter, if the report or statistical compilation does not contain any information that would permit the identification of an individual and is not otherwise confidential or privileged.

(c) A member of a review team may not disclose any information that is confidential under this section.

(d) A person commits an offense if the person discloses information made confidential by this section. An offense under this subsection is a Class A misdemeanor.

(e) Information, documents, and records that are confidential as provided by this section are not subject to subpoena or discovery and may not be introduced into evidence in any civil or criminal proceeding. A document or other information that is otherwise available from another source is not protected from subpoena, discovery, or introduction into evidence under this subsection solely because the document or information was acquired by a review team in the exercise of its duties under this chapter.

Comments

Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1486, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

Amended by:

Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 268 (H.B. 3303), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2009.

Sec. 672.010: Civil Liability for Disclosure of Information

Subject to the limits described in Section 101.023(b), Civil Practice and Remedies Code, a team organized pursuant to this chapter, or any member thereof, may be civilly liable for damages caused by the disclosure of information gathered pursuant to an investigation if such disclosure is made in violation of Section 672.007 and Section 672.009.

Comments

Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1486, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

Sec. 672.011: Governmental Unit

Subject to Section 672.010, a review team established under this chapter is a local governmental unit for purposes of Chapter 101, Civil Practice and Remedies Code.

Comments

Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1486, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

Sec. 672.012: Report of Unexpected Fatality

(a) A person, including a health care provider, who knows of the death of an adult that resulted from, or that occurred under circumstances indicating death may have resulted from, suicide, family violence, or abuse, shall immediately report the death to the medical examiner of the county in which the death occurred or, if the death occurred in a county that does not have a medical examiner's office or that is not part of a medical examiner's district, to a justice of the peace in that county.

(b) The requirement of this section is in addition to any other reporting requirement imposed by law.

Comments

Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1486, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

Sec. 672.013: Procedure in the Event of Reportable Death

(a) A medical examiner or justice of the peace notified of a death under Section 672.012 may hold an inquest under Chapter 49, Code of Criminal Procedure, to determine whether the death was caused by suicide, family violence, or abuse.

(b) Without regard to whether an inquest is held under Subsection (a), the medical examiner or justice of the peace shall immediately notify the county or entity designated under Section 672.002(b) of:

(1) each notification of death received under Section 672.012;

(2) each death found to be caused by suicide, family violence, or abuse; or

(3) each death that may be a result of suicide, family violence, or abuse, without regard to whether the suspected suicide, family violence, or abuse is determined to be a sole or contributing cause and without regard to whether the cause of death is conclusively determined.

Comments

Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1486, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

Chapter 673

Sec. 673.001: Definitions

In this chapter:

(1) "Commissioner" means the commissioner of state health services.

(2) "Department" means the Department of State Health Services.

(3) "Executive commissioner" means the executive commissioner of the Health and Human Services Commission.

Comments

Acts 1989, 71st Leg., ch. 678, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1989.

Amended by:

Acts 2015, 84th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1 (S.B. 219), Sec. 3.1504, eff. April 2, 2015.

Sec. 673.002: Autopsy

(a) The death in this state of a child 12 months old or younger shall be immediately reported to the justice of the peace, medical examiner, or other proper official as prescribed by law if the child dies suddenly or is found dead and if the cause of death is unknown.

(b) The justice of the peace or medical examiner shall inform the child's legal guardian or parents that an autopsy shall be performed on the child. The state shall reimburse a county $500 for the cost of the autopsy if the primary cause of death of the child is sudden infant death syndrome. The executive commissioner shall adopt rules that:

(1) define sudden infant death syndrome; and

(2) describe the method for obtaining reimbursement for the cost of an autopsy.

(c) Reimbursement required by Subsection (b) is subject to the availability of funds.

(d) After the autopsy is completed, the child's parents or legal guardian shall be notified of the autopsy results.

(e) This section does not affect the duties of the justice of the peace or medical examiner prescribed by other laws.

Comments

Acts 1989, 71st Leg., ch. 678, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1989. Amended by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 785, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1999.

Amended by:

Acts 2015, 84th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1 (S.B. 219), Sec. 3.1505, eff. April 2, 2015.

Sec. 673.003: Designation of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome As Primary Cause of Death

Sudden infant death syndrome may be used as a primary cause of death on a death certificate required by Chapter 193.

Comments

Acts 1989, 71st Leg., ch. 678, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1989.

Sec. 673.004: Model Program

(a) The department shall develop a model program that can be used to provide information and follow-up consultation about sudden infant death syndrome and its characteristic grief-guilt reaction. The program should humanize and maximize understanding and the handling of sudden infant death syndrome in this state.

(b) The department shall distribute the program to proper agencies, governmental bodies, officials, physicians, nurses, health professionals, and citizens.

(c) The department may appoint an advisory committee to provide assistance in developing the program.

Comments

Acts 1989, 71st Leg., ch. 678, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1989.

Chapter 674

Sec. 674.001: Definitions

In this chapter:

(1) "Decedent" means:

(A) a person for whom a fetal death certificate must be filed; or

(B) a deceased infant.

(2) "Fetal death certificate" means a death certificate filed for any fetus weighing 350 grams or more or, if the weight is unknown, a fetus age 20 weeks or more as calculated from the start date of the last normal menstrual period to the date of delivery.

(3) "Health care provider" means any health care practitioner or facility that provides medical evaluation or treatment, including mental health evaluation or treatment.

(4) "Infant" means a child younger than one year of age.

(5) "Local health authority" means:

(A) a municipal or county health authority;

(B) a director of a local health department or public health district; or

(C) a regional director of a public health region.

(6) "Review" means a reexamination of information regarding a decedent from relevant agencies, professionals, health care providers, and the family of the decedent.

(7) "Review team" means the fetal and infant mortality review team.

Comments

Added by Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 488 (S.B. 143), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2007.

Sec. 674.002: Review Team

(a) A fetal and infant mortality review team may be established only:

(1) by a local health authority or other local health official or by the Department of State Health Services; or

(2) under a contract or in accordance with a memorandum of agreement with a local health authority or other local health official or the Department of State Health Services.

(b) Local health authorities or other local health officials for two or more adjacent counties or municipalities may join to establish a joint review team.

(c) A review team must be composed of culturally diverse members representing multiple disciplines, including professionals and representatives of agencies that provide services or community resources for families in the community and community representatives. The review team may include:

(1) a physician, including a pediatrician, an obstetrician, or a physician practicing in another relevant specialty;

(2) a registered nurse;

(3) a certified nurse-midwife or licensed midwife;

(4) a county attorney or a designee of a county attorney;

(5) a representative of a school district;

(6) a representative of the local health department;

(7) a forensic pathologist;

(8) a mental health professional;

(9) a representative from a local hospital;

(10) a local registrar of births and deaths;

(11) a person working in a supervisory position in local administration of the state Medicaid program;

(12) a person working with local implementation of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children;

(13) an educator;

(14) a pastoral counselor;

(15) a member of the health committee of a chamber of commerce; and

(16) other community representatives.

(d) Members of a review team may select additional members according to the resources of the review team and its needs.

(e) The review team shall select a presiding officer from its members.

(f) A local health authority or other local health official or the Department of State Health Services is not required to establish a review team for a particular municipality or county.

Comments

Added by Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 488 (S.B. 143), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2007.

Sec. 674.003: Purpose and Powers and Duties of Review Team

(a) The purpose of a review team is to:

(1) improve the health and well-being of women, infants, and families;

(2) reduce racial disparities in the rates of and the overall rates of fetal and infant mortality;

(3) facilitate the operations of the review team and train review team members on the review team process; and

(4) develop and deliver reports of findings to the community.

(b) For a death or fetal death subject to review, the review team shall collect information relating to the death of the decedent, including medical, dental, and mental health care records or information, autopsy reports, social services records, and other pertinent records related to the decedent and the family of the decedent.

(c) Before review at a meeting of the review team, the names and addresses of the decedent and the decedent's family and the name and address of each health care provider that provided services to the decedent or decedent's family shall be removed from information collected under Subsection (b). A summary of the information, with the identifying information described by this subsection removed, shall be prepared for consideration of the review team.

(d) The review team shall:

(1) compile statistics of fetal and infant mortality;

(2) analyze the causes of fetal and infant mortality; and

(3) recommend measures to decrease fetal and infant mortality to a community action team formed for this purpose or to state or local governmental officials or other appropriate members of the community.

Comments

Added by Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 488 (S.B. 143), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2007.

Sec. 674.004: Governmental Unit

A review team is a governmental unit for purposes of Chapter 101, Civil Practice and Remedies Code. A review team is a unit of local government under that chapter.

Comments

Added by Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 488 (S.B. 143), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2007.

Sec. 674.005: Meetings

(a) Meetings of a review team are closed to the public and are not subject to Chapter 551, Government Code.

(b) A member of a review team participating in the review of a death or fetal death, and any person employed by or acting in an advisory capacity to the review team and who provides counsel or services to the review team, are immune from civil or criminal liability arising from information presented in a review team meeting or recommendations resulting from the meeting.

Comments

Added by Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 488 (S.B. 143), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2007.

Sec. 674.006: Disclosure of Information to Review Team

(a) A review team may request information regarding a decedent or the decedent's family as necessary to carry out the review team's purpose and duties, including any information described by Section 674.003(b).

(b) On the request of the review team, a health care provider or other custodian of the requested information shall provide the information to the review team. The information shall be provided without the authorization of the decedent's parent, guardian, or other representative.

(c) A health care provider or other person who provides information to a review team is not subject to a civil action for damages or other relief as a result of having provided the information. This subsection does not apply if the information provided was false and the health care provider or other person knew or had reason to know that the information was false.

Comments

Added by Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 488 (S.B. 143), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2007.

Sec. 674.007: Confidentiality of Records; Privilege

(a) Information is confidential for purposes of this chapter if the disclosure of the information would compromise the privacy of the decedent or the decedent's family. Confidential information includes any information pertaining to the decedent's death.

(b) Confidential information that is acquired by the review team and that permits the identification of an individual or health care provider is privileged and may not be disclosed to any person except to the extent necessary to carry out the purposes of the review team. Information that may not be disclosed under this subsection includes:

(1) names and addresses of the decedent or the decedent's family;

(2) services received by the decedent or the decedent's family;

(3) the social and economic condition of the decedent or the decedent's family;

(4) medical, dental, and mental health care information related to the decedent or the decedent's family, including diagnoses, conditions, diseases, or disability; and

(5) the identity of health care providers that provided services to the decedent or the decedent's family.

(c) Review team work product and information obtained by a review team, including files, records, reports, records of proceedings, recommendations, meeting notes, records of interviews, statements, and memoranda, are confidential and are not subject to disclosure under Chapter 552, Government Code. This subsection does not prevent a review team from releasing information described by Subsection (d) or (e).

(d) Information is not confidential under this section if the information is general information that cannot be connected with any specific individual, case, or health care provider, such as:

(1) total expenditures made for specified purposes;

(2) the number of families served by particular health care providers or agencies;

(3) aggregated data on social and economic conditions;

(4) medical data and information related to health care services that do not include any identifying information relating to a decedent or the decedent's family; and

(5) other statistical information.

(e) A review team may publish statistical studies and research reports based on information that is confidential under this section, provided that the information published may not identify a decedent or the decedent's family and may not include any information that could be used to identify a decedent or the decedent's family.

(f) A review team shall adopt and follow practices and procedures to ensure that information that is confidential under this section is not disclosed in violation of this section.

Comments

Added by Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 488 (S.B. 143), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2007.

Sec. 674.008: Immunity from Subpoena and Discovery

(a) Review team work product and information obtained by a review team, including files, records, reports, records of proceedings, recommendations, meeting notes, records of interviews, statements, and memoranda, are privileged, are not subject to subpoena or discovery, and may not be introduced into evidence in any civil or criminal proceeding against a member of the family of a decedent or a health care provider.

(b) A document or other information that is otherwise available from another source is not protected from subpoena, discovery, or introduction into evidence under Subsection (a) solely because the document or other information was presented during a meeting of a review team or because a record of the document or other information is maintained by the review team.

Comments

Added by Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 488 (S.B. 143), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2007.

Sec. 674.009: Unauthorized Disclosure By Review Team Member; Offense

(a) A person commits an offense if the person is a member of a review team and the person knowingly:

(1) discloses confidential information in violation of Section 674.007; or

(2) inspects confidential information without authority granted in accordance with procedures established by the review team.

(b) An offense under Subsection (a) is a Class A misdemeanor.

Comments

Added by Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 488 (S.B. 143), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2007.

Sec. 674.010: Immunity

A member of a review team is not liable for damages to a person for an action taken or a recommendation made within the scope of the functions of the review team if the member acts without malice and in the reasonable belief that the action or recommendation is warranted by the facts known to the review team member.

Comments

Added by Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 488 (S.B. 143), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2007.

Sec. 674.011: Inapplicability of Chapter

This chapter does not apply to disclosure of records pertaining to voluntary or therapeutic termination of pregnancy, and those records may not be disclosed under this chapter.

Comments

Added by Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 488 (S.B. 143), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2007.