Update on DHS Interpretation of Child Abuse Clearance Requirement for Physicians

On Dec.1, PAMED reported that the Department of Human Services (DHS) clarified its interpretation as to when a child abuse clearance is required for physicians and other members of the health care team.

As interpreted by DHS, “a physician or other person employed by a medical practice or a hospital to deliver medical care or to provide administrative services related to the delivery of medical care would not need a child abuse clearance.”  

On Jan. 27, DHS reiterated its interpretation of the Child Protective Services Law’s (CPSL) clearance requirement in a news report on ABC 27 news. Cathy Utz, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Human Services, stated that the statute as currently written “does not require medical personnel to have background checks.”

In December, PAMED sent a letter to DHS Secretary Ted Dallas requesting confirmation in the form of a regulation that defines the scope the law, and a bulletin or other official statement setting forth the DHS position. To date, we have not received a response. PAMED will continue to pursue this information and, once received, will take appropriate action to inform members.

As previously stated, however, please keep in mind that the CPSL does not limit employers from imposing more stringent requirements on their employees, that is, to require a child abuse clearance even though not mandated under the law.

Also, even under the narrow interpretation, physicians would need a child abuse clearance if they are employed in a paid position by an organization that meets the definition of program, activity or service.

Information on how to obtain child abuse clearances can be found on DHS’ website.

Resources to help you understand and comply with the child abuse laws, such as CME on recognition and reporting that meets the state’s licensure requirements, can be found on PAMED’s website.