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AB-1864 Inquests: sudden unexplained death in childhood.(2015-2016)

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Enrolled  August 25, 2016
Passed  IN  Senate  August 18, 2016
Passed  IN  Assembly  August 23, 2016
Amended  IN  Senate  August 15, 2016
Amended  IN  Senate  August 04, 2016
Amended  IN  Assembly  March 17, 2016

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2015–2016 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill
No. 1864


Introduced by Assembly Member Cooley
(Coauthor: Assembly Member Cooper)

February 10, 2016


An act to amend Section 27491.41 of, and to add Section 27491.42 to, the Government Code, relating to inquests.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 1864, Cooley. Inquests: sudden unexplained death in childhood.
Existing law states that the Legislature finds and declares that sudden infant death syndrome, as defined, is the leading cause of death for children under age one. Existing law requires the coroner to, among other things, perform an autopsy, within 24 hours or as soon thereafter as feasible, in any case where an infant has died suddenly and unexpectedly.
This bill would define “sudden unexplained death in childhood” as the sudden death of a child one year of age or older but under 18 years of age that is unexplained by the history of the child and for which a thorough postmortem examination fails to demonstrate an adequate cause of death. The bill would require the coroner to notify the parent or responsible adult of a child within that definition about the importance of taking tissue samples. The bill would also exempt the coroner from liability for damages in a civil action for any act or omission done in compliance with these provisions. The bill would make other, nonsubstantive, changes.
By expanding the duties of a local agency, this bill would create a state-mandated local program.
This bill would incorporate additional changes to Section 27491.41 of the Government Code, proposed by SB 1189, to be operative only if SB 1189 and this bill are both chaptered and become effective on or before January 1, 2017, and this bill is chaptered last.
The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that, if the Commission on State Mandates determines that the bill contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement for those costs shall be made pursuant to these statutory provisions.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: YES  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Section 27491.41 of the Government Code is amended to read:

27491.41.
 (a) For purposes of this section, “sudden infant death syndrome” means the sudden death of any infant that is unexpected by the history of the infant and where a thorough postmortem examination fails to demonstrate an adequate cause of death.
(b) The Legislature finds and declares that sudden infant death syndrome, also referred to as SIDS, is the leading cause of death for children under age one, striking one out of every 500 children. The Legislature finds and declares that sudden infant death syndrome is a serious problem within the State of California, and that the public interest is served by research and study of sudden infant death syndrome and its potential causes and indications.
(c) (1) To facilitate these purposes, the coroner shall, within 24 hours or as soon thereafter as feasible, perform an autopsy in any case where an infant has died suddenly and unexpectedly.
(2) However, if the attending physician desires to certify that the cause of death is sudden infant death syndrome, an autopsy may be performed at the discretion of the coroner. If the coroner performs an autopsy pursuant to this section, he or she shall also certify the cause of death.
(d) The autopsy shall be conducted pursuant to a standardized protocol developed by the State Department of Public Health. The protocol is exempt from the procedural requirements pertaining to the adoption of administrative rules and regulations pursuant to Article 5 (commencing with Section 11346) of Chapter 3.5 of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code.
(e) The protocol shall be followed by all coroners throughout the state when conducting the autopsies required by this section. The coroner shall state on the certificate of death that sudden infant death syndrome was the cause of death when the coroner’s findings are consistent with the definition of sudden infant death syndrome specified in the standardized autopsy protocol. The protocol may include requirements and standards for scene investigations, requirements for specific data, criteria for ascertaining cause of death based on the autopsy, and criteria for any specific tissue sampling, and any other requirements. The protocol may also require that specific tissue samples shall be provided to a central tissue repository designated by the State Department of Public Health.
(f) The State Department of Public Health shall establish procedures and protocols for access by researchers to any tissues, or other materials or data authorized by this section. Research may be conducted by any individual with a valid scientific interest and prior approval from the State Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects. The tissue samples, the materials, and all data shall be subject to the confidentiality requirements of Section 103850 of the Health and Safety Code.
(g) The coroner may take tissue samples for research purposes from infants who have died suddenly and unexpectedly without consent of the responsible adult if the tissue removal is not likely to result in any visible disfigurement.
(h) A coroner shall not be liable for damages in a civil action for any act or omission done in compliance with this section.
(i) Consent of any person is not required before undertaking the autopsy required by this section.

SEC. 1.5.

 Section 27491.41 of the Government Code is amended to read:

27491.41.
 (a) For purposes of this section, “sudden infant death syndrome” means the sudden death of any infant that is unexpected by the history of the infant and where a thorough postmortem examination fails to demonstrate an adequate cause of death.
(b) The Legislature finds and declares that sudden infant death syndrome, also referred to as SIDS, is the leading cause of death for children under age one, striking one out of every 500 children. The Legislature finds and declares that sudden infant death syndrome is a serious problem within the State of California, and that the public interest is served by research and study of sudden infant death syndrome and its potential causes and indications.
(c) (1) To facilitate these purposes, the coroner shall, within 24 hours or as soon thereafter as feasible, cause an autopsy to be performed in any case where an infant has died suddenly and unexpectedly.
(2) However, if the attending licensed physician and surgeon desires to certify that the cause of death is sudden infant death syndrome, an autopsy may be performed at the discretion of the coroner. If the coroner causes an autopsy to be performed pursuant to this section, he or she shall also certify the cause of death.
(d) The autopsy shall be conducted pursuant to a standardized protocol developed by the State Department of Public Health. The protocol is exempt from the procedural requirements pertaining to the adoption of administrative rules and regulations pursuant to Article 5 (commencing with Section 11346) of Chapter 3.5 of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code.
(e) The protocol shall be followed by all coroners throughout the state when conducting an evaluation as part of an autopsy required by this section. The coroner shall state on the certificate of death that sudden infant death syndrome was the cause of death when the coroner’s findings are consistent with the definition of sudden infant death syndrome specified in the standardized autopsy protocol. The protocol may include requirements and standards for scene investigations, requirements for specific data, criteria for ascertaining cause of death based on the autopsy, and criteria for any specific tissue sampling, and any other requirements. The protocol may also require that specific tissue samples shall be provided to a central tissue repository designated by the State Department of Public Health.
(f) The State Department of Public Health shall establish procedures and protocols for access by researchers to any tissues, or other materials or data authorized by this section. Research may be conducted by any individual with a valid scientific interest and prior approval from the State Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects. The tissue samples, the materials, and all data shall be subject to the confidentiality requirements of Section 103850 of the Health and Safety Code.
(g) The coroner may take tissue samples for research purposes from infants who have died suddenly and unexpectedly without consent of the responsible adult if the tissue removal is not likely to result in any visible disfigurement.
(h) A coroner or licensed physician and surgeon shall not be liable for damages in a civil action for any act or omission done in compliance with this section.
(i) Consent of any person is not required before undertaking the autopsy required by this section.

SEC. 2.

 Section 27491.42 is added to the Government Code, to read:

27491.42.
 (a) For purposes of this article, “sudden unexplained death in childhood” means the sudden death of a child one year of age or older but under 18 years of age that is unexplained by the history of the child and where a thorough postmortem examination fails to demonstrate an adequate cause of death.
(b) The coroner shall notify the parent or responsible adult of a child described in subdivision (a) about the importance of taking tissue samples.
(c) A coroner shall not be liable for damages in a civil action for any act or omission in compliance with this section.

SEC. 3.

 Section 1.5 of this bill incorporates amendments to Section 27491.41 of the Government Code proposed by both this bill and Senate Bill 1189. It shall only become operative if (1) both bills are enacted and become effective on or before January 1, 2017, (2) each bill amends Section 27491.41 of the Government Code, and (3) this bill is enacted after Senate Bill 1189, in which case Section 1 of this bill shall not become operative.

SEC. 4.

 If the Commission on State Mandates determines that this act contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement to local agencies and school districts for those costs shall be made pursuant to Part 7 (commencing with Section 17500) of Division 4 of Title 2 of the Government Code.