Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 32.1. Health
Chapter 8. Postmortem Examinations and Services
11/16/2019

§ 32.1-283.8. Maternal Mortality Review Team; duties; membership; confidentiality; penalties; report; etc.

A. As used in this section, "maternal death" means the death of a woman who was pregnant at the time of death or within one year prior to the time of death, regardless of the outcome of the pregnancy, including any death determined to be a natural death, unnatural death, or violent death or for which no cause of death was determined.

B. There is hereby created the Maternal Mortality Review Team (the Team), which shall develop and implement procedures to ensure that certain maternal deaths occurring in the Commonwealth are analyzed in a systematic way. The Team shall review every maternal death in the Commonwealth. The Team shall not initiate a maternal death review until the conclusion of any law-enforcement investigation or criminal prosecution. The Team shall (i) develop and revise as necessary operating procedures for maternal death reviews, including identification of cases to be reviewed and procedures for coordinating among the agencies and professionals involved; (ii) improve the identification of and data collection and record keeping related to causes of maternal deaths; (iii) recommend components of programs to increase awareness and prevention of and education about maternal deaths; and (iv) recommend training to improve the review of maternal deaths. Such operating procedures shall be exempt from the Administrative Process Act (§ 2.2-4000 et seq.) pursuant to subdivision B 17 of § 2.2-4002.

C. The Team shall consist of the following persons or their designees: the Chief Medical Examiner, the Director of the Office of Family Health of the Department of Health, the State Registrar of Vital Records, and the Commissioner of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services. In addition, the Governor shall appoint one representative of each of the following entities: local law enforcement, local fire departments, local emergency medical services providers, local departments of social services, community services boards, attorneys for the Commonwealth, the Medical Society of Virginia, the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, the Virginia College of Emergency Physicians, the Virginia Section of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Virginia Affiliate of the American College of Nurse-Midwives, the Virginia Chapter of the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses, the Virginia Neonatal Perinatal Collaborative, the Virginia Midwives Alliance, and the Virginia Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The Chief Medical Examiner and the Director of the Office of Family Health of the Department of Health shall serve as co-chairs of the Team and may appoint additional members of the Team as may be needed to complete maternal death reviews pursuant to this section.

After the initial staggering of terms, members other than the Chief Medical Examiner, the Director of the Office of Family Health of the Department of Health, the State Registrar of Vital Records, the Commissioner of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, and the Director of the Department of Criminal Justice Services shall be appointed for a term of three years. Appointments to fill vacancies, other than by expiration of a term, shall be for the unexpired terms. Vacancies shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointments. All members may be reappointed. The Chief Medical Examiner, the Director of the Office of Family Health of the Department of Health, the State Registrar of Vital Records, the Commissioner of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, and the Director of the Department of Criminal Justice Services shall serve terms coincident with their terms of office.

D. Upon the request of the Chief Medical Examiner in his capacity as a co-chair of the Team, made after the conclusion of any law-enforcement investigation or prosecution, the Chief Medical Examiner or his designee may inspect and copy information and records regarding a maternal death, including (i) any report of the circumstances of the maternal death maintained by any state or local law-enforcement agency or medical examiner, and (ii) information or records about the woman maintained by any social services agency or court. Information, records, or reports maintained by any attorney for the Commonwealth shall be made available for inspection and copying by the Chief Medical Examiner or his designee pursuant to procedures that shall be developed by the Chief Medical Examiner and the Commonwealth's Attorneys' Services Council established by § 2.2-2617. Any presentence report prepared pursuant to § 19.2-299 for any person convicted of a crime that led to the death of the woman shall be made available for inspection and copying by the Chief Medical Examiner or his designee. In addition, the Chief Medical Examiner or his designee may inspect and copy from any health care provider in the Commonwealth, on behalf of the Team, (a) without obtaining consent, subject to any limitations on disclosure under applicable federal and state law, the health and mental health records of the woman and those prenatal medical records relating to any child born to the woman and (b) upon obtaining consent, from each adult regarding his records.

E. All information and records obtained or created by the Team or on behalf of the Team regarding a review shall be confidential and excluded from the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (§ 2.2-3700 et seq.) pursuant to subdivision 7 of § 2.2-3705.5. All such information and records shall be used by the Team only in the exercise of its proper purpose and function and shall not be disclosed. In preparing information and records for review by the Team, the Department shall remove any individually identifiable information or information identifying a health care provider, as those terms are defined in 45 C.F.R. § 160.103. Such information shall not be subject to subpoena, subpoena duces tecum, or discovery, be admissible in any civil or criminal proceeding, or be used as evidence in any disciplinary proceeding or regulatory or licensure action of the Department of Health Professions or any health regulatory board. If available from other sources, however, such information and records shall not be immune from subpoena, discovery, or introduction into evidence when obtained through such other sources solely because the information and records were presented to the Team during a maternal death review. The findings of the Team may be disclosed or published in statistical or other form, but shall not identify any individual. Upon conclusion of the maternal death review, all information and records concerning the woman and the woman's family shall be shredded or otherwise destroyed by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in order to ensure confidentiality.

The portions of meetings in which individual maternal deaths are discussed by the Team shall be closed pursuant to subdivision A 21 of § 2.2-3711. In addition to the requirements of § 2.2-3712, all Team members and other persons attending closed Team meetings, including any persons presenting information or records on specific maternal deaths to the Team during closed meetings, shall execute a sworn statement to (i) honor the confidentiality of the information, records, discussions, and opinions disclosed during meetings at which the Team reviews a specific maternal death and (ii) not use any such information, records, discussions, or opinions disclosed during meetings at which the Team reviews a specific maternal death for any purpose other than the exercise of the proper purpose and function of the Team. Violations of this subsection are punishable as a Class 3 misdemeanor.

F. Upon notification of a maternal death, any state or local government agency maintaining records on the woman or the woman's family that are periodically purged shall retain such records for the longer of 12 months or until such time as the Team has completed its review of the case.

G. The Team shall compile triennial statistical data, which shall be made available to the Governor and the General Assembly. Any statistical compilations prepared by the Team shall be public record and shall not contain any personal identifying information.

H. Members of the Team, as well as their agents and employees, shall be immune from civil liability for any act or omission made in connection with participation in a review by the Team, unless such act or omission was the result of gross negligence or willful misconduct. Any organization, institution, or person furnishing information, data, testimony, reports, or records to the Team as part of such review shall be immune from civil liability for any act or omission in furnishing such information, unless such act or omission was the result of gross negligence or willful misconduct.

2019, c. 834.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of this section may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.