Tuesday, April 7, 2009

House Bill Concerning Collection and Storage of Newborn Blood to Be Debated Today


I speak from personal experience. The moments following the birth of a child in a hospital is a flurry of emotions and activity. A proud father cuts the umbilical cord, the baby is weighed and measured, and the infant takes that first precious nap (hopefully!) in his mother's arms. During these first couple of days, at least in Texas, doctors also take a sample of the newborn's blood to test for birth defects and other disorders. What many parents do not know is that this blood is then stored for possible future research and becomes the property of the state. The Texas House of Representatives is now proposing legislation that would require agreement, or at least no objection, from the parents in order for hospitals to continue with this policy of blood storage.

House Bill 1672, which was proposed by Rep. Myra Crownover (R-Denton), would require doctors and other medical providers to provide disclosure forms to parents informing them of the storage process and allowing them to opt out. This bill passed through committee last month, but now another legislator wants to make some changes and put even more responsibility on those who are collecting the blood. Rep. Jodie Laubenberg (R-Parker) has filed an amendment requiring the Department of State Health Services to get written approval from parents or guardians to store samples. If this consent is not received, the medical facility must destroy the blood within sixty (60) days. The full Texas House will consider the bill, with its new amendment, during today's session.

We have health law attorneys at Bertolino LLP who practice in the area of medical licensing and review before medical boards. Therefore, we make certain that we are aware of all possible changes to medical policies at the state and national level. We will be following the decisions made here in Austin concerning the collection and storage of newborn blood so that we are ready to assist medical professionals who have questions or who are facing challenges related to any new law. Please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today if you are a doctor or other medical professional who needs legal assistance today.

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