Article 201 - Births
Proposed Rules: Closed to Comments
STATEMENT OF BASIS AND PURPOSE
This amendment to the New York City Health Code (the “Health Code”) is issued in accordance with §§ 556, 558 and 1043 of the New York City Charter (the “Charter”). Section 556 of the Charter provides the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (the “Department”) with the authority to regulate all matters affecting health in the City of New York. Sections 558(b) and (c) of the Charter empower the Board of Health (the “Board”) to amend the Health Code and to include in the Health Code all matters over which the Department has authority. Section 1043 of the Charter gives the Department rulemaking powers.
Basis and purpose of the changes
The Department requests that the Board amend Section 201.05(d) of the Health Code to require electronic reporting of acknowledgments of paternity for facilities reporting 100 or more live births annually.
Currently, facilities report most vital events using the Electronic Vital Event Registration System (EVERS). The Department has required all facilities reporting 100 or more live births annually to report them electronically since January 1, 1997. More than 99% of the 123,000 live births each year are reported electronically. Paper forms are used for home births, but most in-home delivery attendants voluntarily use EVERS for such reporting.
If a mother is not married, an Acknowledgment of Paternity (AOP) provides a way to legally establish paternity for a child (Public Health Law §4135-1). The AOP form can only be used if the mother was not married at any time during the pregnancy or when the child was born, and if only one man could be the father of the child. The AOP must be signed by both the mother and the father before two witnesses not related to the parents. Hospitals file about 30% of all live births in New York City (36,000 annually) with AOPs. Parents later file another 5,000 AOPs, at which time a replacement birth record is prepared by the Department's Bureau of Vital Statistics. AOPs must be filed with the Department to be effective.
At this time, all AOPs are completed on paper. However, the Department requires all hospital births to be reported electronically. Consequently, the Bureau of Vital Statistics receives the birth records immediately upon completion, but must wait for messenger or mail delivery of the associated paper AOPs. This delays birth registration and further processing, and often necessitates follow-up to hospitals for missing or incomplete AOPs. The proposed amendment will allow for a more efficient method in which hospitals will send the AOPs electronically through secure fax/image transmission to the Bureau of Vital Statistics. To make the process consistent with existing birth reporting practices, the proposed amendment would require all facilities reporting 100 or more live births per year to report acknowledgments of paternity electronically. To give facilities and the Department time to prepare, the Department proposes that the requirement take effect on January 1, 2014.
The Department seeks to further require facilities to retain AOPs reported electronically for a period of at least three years from the date of birth and require facilities to make these records available to the Department for inspection upon request. This retention period would be consistent with the current requirement for hospitals to retain birth worksheets, and would enable inspection of original AOPs if necessary.
Statement pursuant to Charter §1043. The proposed amendments were not included in the Department’s FY 2013 Regulatory Agenda because the need for the amendments was not anticipated at the time the Regulatory Agenda was promulgated.