An official with a county health department contacted the Network with a question about emergency preparedness planning. The practitioner was designing strategies for handling a pandemic during which there may be limited health care providers and health care facility bed capacity available. She contacted the Network hoping to identify existing statutes that could serve as examples of model policy. The requestor was interested in examples of specific statutes that authorized a governor or other state official to waive licensing requirements of professional licensing boards affecting health care providers to allow providers to perform tasks outside their regular permissible scope of practice during a disaster. She also hoped to find examples that allow a waiver of facility permitting requirements to accommodate a potential influx of patients into a facility that would exceed bed capacity restrictions.
The Network responded with a number of relevant resources, including example statutes from several states that permit a state official, agency or professional licensing board to alter or waive professional licensing requirements and scope of practice restrictions during a declared state of emergency, disaster or public health emergency. The Network also informed the requestor about a broad alteration and waiver provision of the Model State Emergency Health Powers Act, which many states have used as a model for their emergency preparedness legislation. The Network also noted related provisions of the Uniform Emergency Volunteer Health Practitioners Act, aspects of which have been enacted in twelve states. The Act includes provisions authorizing state officials to accept volunteer health professionals with out-of-state licenses and alter the professional scope of practice of out-of-state volunteer health professionals who participate in emergency response.
Finally, the Network provided the requestor with several additional resources, including an article from the journal Biosecurity and Bioterrorism entitled ”Volunteer health professionals and emergencies: Assessing and transforming the legal environment,” an article from the journal Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness entitled “Voluntarism in the wake of Hurricane Katrina: The Uniform Emergency Volunteer Health Practitioners Act,” and a report commissioned by the Department of Health and Human Services entitled “Emergency System for Advance Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals: Legal and Regulatory Issues.”
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