Bill Text: NJ A5946 | 2018-2019 | Regular Session | Introduced


Bill Title: Establishes Office of the Independent Monitor of State Psychiatric Hospitals.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Democrat 1-0)

Status: (Introduced - Dead) 2019-11-18 - Introduced, Referred to Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee [A5946 Detail]

Download: New_Jersey-2018-A5946-Introduced.html

ASSEMBLY, No. 5946

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

218th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED NOVEMBER 18, 2019

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblywoman  VALERIE VAINIERI HUTTLE

District 37 (Bergen)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Establishes Office of the Independent Monitor of State Psychiatric Hospitals.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act concerning the independent monitoring of conduct occurring at psychiatric hospitals and supplementing Title 30 of the Revised Statutes.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    a.  There is established in, but not of, the Department of the Treasury, the Office of the Independent Monitor of State Psychiatric Hospitals.  For the purpose of complying with the provisions of Article V, Section IV, paragraph 1 of the New Jersey Constitution, the Office of the Independent Monitor of State Psychiatric Hospitals is allocated within the Department of the Treasury, but notwithstanding this allocation, the office shall be independent of any supervision or control by the department or any board or officer thereof, or by any other cabinet-level department, board, or officer.  The purpose of the office shall be to identify and investigate incidents of corruption, criminal activity, conflicts of interest, and unethical or unprofessional conduct occurring at psychiatric hospitals in the State, and to work with relevant State departments and psychiatric hospital staff to reduce or eliminate, and appropriately respond to, instances of such offensive conduct. 

     b.    The Governor shall appoint an Independent Monitor of State Psychiatric Hospitals, who shall be qualified by training and experience to perform the duties and effectuate the purposes of the office.  The independent monitor shall be a person of recognized judgment, integrity, and objectivity, and shall be skilled in communication, conflict resolution, and professionalism. 

     c.     The Independent Monitor of State Psychiatric Hospitals shall organize and direct the work of the office, including the work of professional and clerical staff, as may be necessary to carry out the duties and effectuate the purposes of the office.

     d.    As used in this act, "psychiatric hospital" means a psychiatric hospital listed in R.S.30:1-7.

 

     2.    a.  The Office of the Independent Monitor of State Psychiatric Hospitals shall have the duty to:

     (1)   identify, record, and investigate all incidents of corrupt behavior, criminal activity, conflicts of interest, and unethical or unprofessional conduct occurring at State psychiatric hospitals;

     (2)   solicit and receive reports from relevant State actors and agencies, and from members of the public, regarding alleged incidents of corrupt behavior, criminal activity, conflicts of interest, or unethical or unprofessional conduct occurring at State psychiatric hospitals;

     (3)   develop and implement an electronic system to enable and facilitate the sharing of relevant data, reports, and records by and among the State agencies that are responsible either for overseeing and monitoring various aspects of psychiatric hospital operations and care, or for enforcing the law as it applies to psychiatric hospitals and psychiatric hospital staff, including the Departments of Health, Human Services, and Law and Public Safety; and ensure that such entities timely input appropriate data into the electronic system following the receipt of any allegation or evidence of corruption, criminal activity, conflict of interest, or unethical or unprofessional conduct occurring at a psychiatric hospital in the State;

     (4)   fully investigate, or facilitate the full investigation of, each alleged incident of corruption, criminal activity, conflict of interest, or unethical or unprofessional conduct occurring at a State psychiatric hospital, as necessary to verify the facts surrounding each incident and determine the incident's causes, effects, and level of severity; and

     (5)   undertake appropriate remedial actions to mitigate the effects, or to reduce or eliminate the causes, of verified incidents of corruption, criminal activity, conflict of interest, or unethical or unprofessional conduct occurring at State psychiatric hospitals.  Such remedial actions may include, but need not be limited to:  (a) requiring a psychiatric hospital to implement a plan of corrective action as necessary to address and mitigate the factors that led to the verified incident and otherwise prevent the future occurrence of similar incidents; (b) referring an offending staff member to a professional licensing board, or to law enforcement, for appropriate disciplinary action or the initiation of criminal proceedings; or (c) recommending that the psychiatric hospital suspend or terminate an offending staff member from professional duties.

     b.    The office shall work in consultation and cooperation with the Departments of Health, Human Services, and Law and Public Safety, and with other appropriate State agencies, as may be necessary to carry out the duties, and effectuate the purposes, of the office.  Using the electronic system established pursuant to paragraph (3) of subsection a. of this section, or as otherwise prescribed by the independent monitor, the Departments of Health, Human Services, and Law and Public Safety, and any other relevant agencies identified by the office shall regularly provide the office with the following information: 

     (1)   data and information that is necessary to enable the office to identify, fully investigate, and otherwise respond to, new allegations of corruption, criminality, conflicts of interest, or unethical or unprofessional conduct occurring at a psychiatric hospital; and

     (2)   data and information that is necessary for the office to understand the results of any investigation of alleged corruption, criminality, conflicts of interests, unethical or unprofessional conduct, or patient abuse or neglect that has been undertaken by the reporting State agency.

     c.     To the extent practicable, the independent monitor shall ensure that there is no duplication or overlap between investigations that are undertaken by the office and investigations that are undertaken by another State agency.  In order to avoid any such duplication and overlap, the office shall immediately review the data that is shared by State agencies pursuant to subsection b. of this section, and shall work in close consultation with relevant State agencies in responding to allegations of improper conduct.

 

     3.    a.  The office shall annually submit a written report to the Governor, and, pursuant to section 2 of P.L.1991, c.164 (C.52:14-19.1), to the Legislature, describing the actions it has undertaken and the data it has collected pursuant to this act.  The office shall contemporaneously forward a copy of each annual report to the Departments of Health and Human Services.

     b.    Each annual report shall include, at a minimum, the following information:

     (1)   a summary of services that are provided by the State's psychiatric hospitals;

     (2)   de-personalized statistical information indicating:  (a) the total number of alleged incidents of corruption, criminal activity, conflicts of interest, and unethical or unprofessional conduct occurring at the State's psychiatric hospitals over the course of the reporting period; (b) the number and percentage of alleged incidents that were investigated by the office; (c) the number and percentage of alleged incidents that were investigated by another State agency; (d) the number and percentage of alleged incidents that were verified following investigation, and the nature and severity of those verified incidents; and (e) the actions that were undertaken by the office, by another State agency, or by the psychiatric hospital, in response to each such verified incident;

     (3)   an indication as to how the data reported pursuant to this section has changed over time, including an indication of any documented reduction in incident frequency, any significant change in the type of incidents being reported, and any other relevant changes that are evident from the incident data, as reported over time; and

     (4)   recommendations for executive, legislative, or other action that may be necessary to further address, mitigate, or prevent the occurrence of corruption, criminal activity, conflicts of interest, or unethical or unprofessional conduct occurring in the State's psychiatric hospitals.

 

     4.    This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill would establish the Office of the Independent Monitor of State Psychiatric Hospitals in, but not of, the Department of the Treasury.  The purpose of the office would be to identify and investigate incidents of corruption, criminal activity, conflicts of interest, and unethical or unprofessional conduct occurring at psychiatric hospitals in the State, and to work with relevant State departments and psychiatric hospital staff to reduce or eliminate, and appropriately respond to, instances of such offensive conduct. 

     The bill provides for the Independent Monitor of State Psychiatric Hospitals to be appointed by the Governor.  The independent monitor is to be qualified by training and experience to perform the duties and effectuate the purposes of the office; and will be responsible for organizing and directing the work of the office, including the work of professional and clerical staff.

     Under the bill's provisions, the Office of the Independent Monitor of State Psychiatric Hospitals will have the duty to:  1) identify, record, and investigate all incidents of corrupt behavior, criminal activity, conflicts of interest, and unethical or unprofessional conduct occurring at State psychiatric hospitals; 2) solicit and receive reports from relevant State actors and agencies, and from members of the public, regarding alleged incidents of corrupt behavior, criminal activity, conflicts of interest, or unethical or unprofessional conduct occurring at State psychiatric hospitals; 3) develop and implement an electronic system to enable and facilitate the sharing of relevant data, reports, and records by and among the State agencies that are responsible for overseeing or monitoring various aspects of psychiatric hospital operations and care, or for enforcing the law as applied to psychiatric hospitals and hospital staff, including the Departments of Health, Human Services, and Law and Public Safety; 4) ensure that such persons and entities timely input appropriate data into the electronic system following the receipt of any allegation or evidence of corruption, criminal activity, conflict of interest, or unethical or unprofessional conduct occurring at a psychiatric hospital in the State; 5) fully investigate, or facilitate the full investigation of, each alleged incident of corruption, criminal activity, conflict of interest, or unethical or unprofessional conduct occurring at a State psychiatric hospital as necessary to verify the facts surrounding each incident and determine the incident's causes, effects, and level of severity; and 6) undertake appropriate remedial action, such as requiring a psychiatric hospital to implement a plan of correction, as necessary to mitigate the effects, or to reduce or eliminate the causes, of verified incidents of corruption, criminal activity, conflict of interest, or unethical or unprofessional conduct occurring therein. 

     The office will be required to work in consultation and cooperation with the Departments of Health, Human Services, and Law and Public Safety, and with other appropriate State agencies, as may be necessary to carry out its duties and effectuate its purposes.  Using the electronic system established pursuant to the bill, or as otherwise prescribed by the independent monitor, the Departments of Health, Human Services, and Law and Public Safety, and other relevant agencies identified by the office will be required to regularly provide the office with:  1) data and information that is necessary to enable the office to identify, fully investigate, and otherwise respond to, allegations of corruption, criminality, conflicts of interest, or unethical or unprofessional conduct occurring at a psychiatric hospital; and 2) data and information that is necessary for the office to understand the results of any investigation of alleged corruption, criminality, conflicts of interest, unethical or unprofessional conduct, or patient abuse or neglect, which has been undertaken by the reporting State agency.

     To the extent practicable, the independent monitor will be required to ensure that there is no duplication or overlap between investigations that are undertaken by the office and investigations that are undertaken by another State department.  In order to avoid such duplication and overlap, the office will be required to immediately review the data that is shared by State agencies under the bill, and work in close consultation with those agencies when responding to allegations of improper conduct.

     The office will be required to annually provide the Governor and Legislature with a written report describing the actions it has undertaken and the data it has collected pursuant to the bill's provisions.  A copy of each annual report is also to be contemporaneously forwarded to the Departments of Health and Human Services.

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