122C-25.  Inspections; confidentiality.

(a)        The Secretary shall make or cause to be made inspections that the Secretary considers necessary. Facilities licensed under this Article shall be subject to inspection at all times by the Secretary. All residential facilities as defined in G.S. 122C-3(14)e. shall be inspected on an annual basis.

(b)        Notwithstanding G.S. 8-53, G.S. 8-53.3 or any other law relating to confidentiality of communications involving a patient or client, in the course of an inspection conducted under this section, representatives of the Secretary may review any writing or other record concerning the admission, discharge, medication, treatment, medical condition, or history of any individual who is or has been a patient, resident, or client of a licensable facility and the personnel records of those individuals employed by the licensable facility.

A licensable facility, its employees, and any other individual interviewed in the course of an inspection are immune from liability for damages resulting from disclosure of any information to the Secretary.

Except as required by law, it is unlawful for the Secretary or an employee of the Department to disclose the following information to someone not authorized to receive the information:

(1)        Any confidential or privileged information obtained under this section unless the client or his legally responsible person authorizes disclosure in writing; or

(2)        The name of anyone who has furnished information concerning a licensable facility without the individual's consent.

Violation of this subsection is a Class 3 misdemeanor punishable only by a fine, not to exceed five hundred dollars ($500.00).

All confidential or privileged information obtained under this section and the names of persons providing this information are exempt from Chapter 132 of the General Statutes.

(c)        The Secretary shall adopt rules regarding inspections, that, at a minimum, provide for:

(1)        A general administrative schedule for inspections; and

(2)        An unscheduled inspection without notice, if there is a complaint alleging the violation of any licensing rule adopted under this Article.

(d)       All residential facilities, as defined in G.S. 122C-3(14)e., shall ensure that the Division of Health Service Regulation complaint hotline number is posted conspicuously in a public place in the facility. (1983, c. 718, s. 1; 1985, c. 589, s. 2; 1993, c. 539, s. 918; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c); 2005-276, ss. 10.40A(g), 10.40A(h); 2007-182, s. 1.)