Administrative Code

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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 12. Health

12VAC5. Department of Health




The State Board of Health and the State Health Commissioner, assisted by the State Department of Health, are authorized to administer and provide a comprehensive program of preventive, curative, restorative and environmental health services; educate the citizenry in health and environmental matters; develop and implement health resource plans; collect and preserve vital records and health statistics; provide medicolegal investigation and postmortem examinations of deaths that occur suddenly, unexpectedly, violently, or in an otherwise suspicious manner; assist in research; investigate outbreaks of disease; and abate hazards and nuisances to the public health and to the environment both emergency and otherwise. § 32.1-2 of the Code of Virginia

The Virginia Health Planning Board was abolished and its regulations transferred to the Board of Health by Chapter 83 of the 2002 Acts of Assembly. The planning board's regulations remain in force unless they are amended, modified or repealed by the Board of Health.

The department operates under the supervision of the Secretary of Health and Human Resources. Regulations are available at the Office of the State Health Commissioner, 109 Governor Street, Richmond, Virginia 23219. Internet address: Many local health departments may also have copies of departmental regulations.

Regulatory activities are noted herein as vested in the department, without distinction among those vested in the State Board of Health or the State Health Commissioner. In furtherance of its mission to promote and protect the health of all Virginians, the department administers numerous programs and engages in many regulatory activities that are administered by the offices indicated below. These regulatory activities include:


Establishing a comprehensive statewide emergency medical care system, incorporating facilities, transportation, manpower, communications, and other components as integral parts of a unified system that will serve to improve the delivery of emergency medical services and thereby decrease morbidity, hospitalization, disability, and mortality; and establishing poison control centers that meet national certification standards promulgated by the American Association of Poison Control Centers. §§ 32.1-111.3 and 32.1-111.15 of the Code of Virginia.


Compiling a list of human diseases, including diseases caused by exposure to any toxic substance or by exposure to an agent or substance that has the potential for use as a weapon, required to be reported to the department and prescribing the manner and time of such reporting; compiling a list of dangerous microbes and pathogens to be reported by laboratories; providing  for the surveillance of and investigation into all preventable diseases and epidemics in the Commonwealth and into the means for the prevention of such diseases and epidemics; issuing orders to combat epidemics and communicable disease and to address other public health emergencies so that disease may be controlled and investigated epidemiologically; and requiring the immunization of children in order to prevent certain diseases §§ 32.1-35 and 32.1-39 of the Code of Virginia.  


Defining the income limitations within which a person is deemed to be medically indigent so that such persons may receive the medical care services of the department without charge, and prescribing a scale of charges, based on ability to pay, for departmental patients who are not deemed to be medically indigent. § 32.1-11 of the Code of Virginia.


Establishing standards and requirements for research on human participants conducted or authorized by the department, or any facility or other entity operated, funded, or licensed by the department. § 32.1-12.1 of the Code of Virginia.

Providing services for infants identified with any condition for which newborn screening is conducted. § 32.1-67 of the Code of Virginia.

Establishing and maintaining a system of screening tests for newborn infants that detects various inborn disorders, consistent with the uniform condition panel recommended by the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Secretary's Advisory Committee on Heritable Disorders in Newborns and Children. § 32.1-65 of the Code of Virginia.

Performing on-site data collection of the records of patients having malignant tumors or cancers at those consenting hospitals, clinics, independent pathology laboratories and physician offices in order to ensure the completeness and accuracy of the statewide cancer registry. § 32.1-70.2 of the Code of Virginia.

Administering the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC); entering into agreements with the Department of Education and the Department of Medical Assistance Services to identify children who are eligible for free or reduced price school lunches or services through the WIC program. § 32.1-351.2 of the Code of Virginia.  


Establishing procedures and fees for the review of applications for certificates of public need, and, upon finding public need for the construction of or specified modifications to medical care facilities, issuing such certificates, conditioned upon an agreement to provide medical care to indigents or other specifically noted populations where warranted, as well as providing for limitations on the time for completion and on capital expenditures. § 32.1-102.3 of Code of Virginia.

Licensing, prescribing minimal standards of construction, maintenance and operation for, and inspecting hospitals, nursing facilities, hospices, abortion facilities and other medical care facilities, and licensing and prescribing minimal standards governing the activities and services provided by home care organizations. §§ 32.1-125, 32.1-126, 32.1-162.9 and 32.1-162.3 of the Code of Virginia.

Inspecting licensed facilities as necessary to carry out the various obligations imposed on the agency by state and federal law and regulations. § 32.1-125.1 of the Code of Virginia.

Establishing minimum qualifications for private review agents, procedures governing such agents, guidelines regarding access to and confidentiality of medical records, and fees. § 32.1-138.7 of the Code of Virginia.

Prescribing standards that ensure the quality of managed health care insurance plans offered by entities that are licensed by the State Corporation Commission, and issuing certificates of quality assurance to such licensees. § 32.1-137.2 of the Code of Virginia.

Designating health planning regions and regional health planning agencies; establishing the composition and method of appointment of members of the regional health planning boards; requiring each regional health planning board to report and maintain a record of its membership for publication; and establishing a program for disbursing and administering funds for regional health planning. § 32.1-122.05 of the Code of Virginia.


Licensing restaurants, hotels and other lodging facilities, summer camps, campgrounds and migrant labor camps, and inspecting these establishments, along with public swimming pools, for compliance with sanitary requirements. §§ 32.1-211, 35.1-5, 35.1-13, and 35.1-18 of the Code of Virginia.

Establishing regulations governing toilet facilities, sewage disposal facilities and water supply facilities at public gathering places. § 32.1-200 of the Code of Virginia.  

Supervising the safe and sanitary collection, conveyance, transportation, treatment and disposal of sewage; regulating the construction and operation of sewage disposal and treatment facilities; setting standards for and approving residential sewage disposal systems; and prescribing requirements for the disposal of sewage at marinas. § 32.1-164 of the Code of Virginia.

Prescribing standards for the location, construction and abandonment of private wells. § 32.1-176.4 of the Code of Virginia

Prescribing standards, examinations, analyses and inspections which control the taking and marketing from a health standpoint of crustacea, finfish, and shellfish; conducting inspections of the establishments in which crustacea, finfish and shellfish are handled and the sanitary conditions surrounding the establishment, and establishing the boundaries of and condemning growing areas in which crustacea, finfish or shellfish are unfit for market §§ 28.2-803, 28.2-806, and 28.2-807 of the Code of Virginia.

Public notification whenever there is a higher risk of illness when swimming in public beach water. §§ 32.1-2, 32.1-12, and 32.1-23 of the Code of Virginia.

Serving as the state toxic substances information agency and promulgating regulations pertaining to chemical exposures posing a threat to public health or the environment. § 32.1-240 of the Code of Virginia.


Regulating and controlling sources of radiation; licensing the use, production and possession of radioactive materials; establishing fee schedules for the licensure and inspection of radioactive materials; adopting regulations for the imposition of civil penalties for violations of law, regulation or licensure conditions by persons licensed for the use or possession of radioactive materials; and requiring the registration, inspection and certification of diagnostic and therapeutic x-ray machines used in the healing arts. §§ 32.1-229 and 32.1-229.3 of the Code of Virginia


Issuing permits for and regulating the design and operation of public water systems, and establishing standards for protecting the quality and safety of the drinking water produced by such systems. §32.1-170 of the Code of Virginia.  

Regulating waterworks, water supplies, and pure water to protect the public health and promote the public welfare including criteria and procedures to accomplish these purposes. § 32.1-170 of the Code of Virginia.


The Chief Medical Examiner and his assistants shall be available to Virginia Commonwealth University, the University of Virginia, the Eastern Virginia Medical School, and other institutions of higher education providing instruction in health science or law for teaching legal medicine and other subjects related to their duties. § 32.1-279 of the Code of Virginia.

If, in the opinion of the medical examiner investigating the death or of the Chief Medical Examiner, it is advisable and in the public interest that an autopsy be made or if an autopsy is requested by the attorney for the Commonwealth or by a judge of the circuit court of the county or city wherein such body is or where death occurred or wherein any injury contributing to or causing death was sustained, an autopsy shall be performed by the Chief Medical Examiner. § 32.1-285 of the Code of Virginia.

The medical examiner and procurement organizations shall enter into an agreement setting forth protocols and procedures to govern relations between the parties when an anatomical gift of a part from a decedent under the jurisdiction of the medical examiner has been or might be made. § 32.1-291.23 of the Code of Virginia.  


Establish criteria to identify medically underserved areas within the Commonwealth. § 32.1-122.5 of the Code of Virginia.

Granting conditional scholarships for the training of certain physicians, nurses, dentists and dental hygienists and defining the obligations scholarship recipients must fulfill, including their practice in areas underserved by medical and dental professionals, as such areas are delineated by the department. §§ 32.1-122.6:01, 32.1-122.6:02, 32.1-122.6:03, 32.1-122.9 and 32.1-122.10 of the Code of Virginia.  


Establishing a methodology for the review and measurement of the efficiency and productivity of health care institutions, administering a patient level data system and all payer claims database for consumers, employers, providers and purchasers of health care to improve the quality, appropriateness, and accessibility of health care, and to provide information useful in making decisions relating to health care. §§ 32.1-276.6 and 32.1-276.7:1 of the Code of Virginia.


Uniformly administering the statewide system for maintaining vital records, i.e., birth, adoption, marriage, divorce, death, and fetal death records, and for allowing access and necessary changes to these records. § 32.1-252 of the Code of Virginia.


Effectively respond to any emergency impacting public health through preparation, collaboration, education and rapid intervention. This involves state, regional and local emergency response partners collaborating to enhance readiness to respond to all hazards, including bioterrorism, infectious disease outbreaks and other public health emergencies.

Rev. 3/2020

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