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California Hospitals Will be Required to Rope in Family Caregivers

Aimee Sharp
Author | Shield HealthCare
12/30/15  12:18 PM PST

California Hospitals Will be Required to Rope in Family Caregivers By Michael Sandler for Modern Healthcare

A California state law that takes effect in the new year aims to help hospital patients better transition home with the aid of informed family members and friends, a move that could improve quality of care, prevent readmissions and cut costs. But some warn laws like it add a layer of bureaucracy that doesn’t solve the often personal issues that could muddle a hospital discharge plan.

Beginning Jan. 1, California hospitals will be required to identify a caregiver during a patient’s hospitalization and inform that caregiver of the individual’s discharge date and instructions, including proper medication schedules. Some patients’ caregivers complain that they aren’t often kept in the loop regarding important details of the patient’s status and that the discharge process is confusing and complex.

The law, SB 675, which was backed by the American Association of Retired Persons and was passed unanimously by California’s Legislature, will engage caregivers and stimulate conversations surrounding preferences and capabilities to help loved ones remain independent, said Suzanne Reed, chief of staff for bill sponsor Sen. Carol Liu.

Hospitals are still required to maintain privacy requirements and cannot release information without the patient’s consent.

The California Hospital Association, which represents 400 hospitals and health systems, did not adopt a formal position on the law, according to a spokeswoman.

But in a written statement, CHA said it supports policies and practices that will result in effective and sustainable transitions of care. It underscored the importance of family caregivers in a patient’s recovery.

And therein lies the rub, say some opponents in other states. About a dozen or so states have passed similar laws.

When Kansas legislators debated a bill this year, many cautioned that in addition to adding another mandate to hospitals, which already are required to follow certain Medicare discharge rules, the law didn’t address what’s often the biggest problem in quality care: family dynamics.

Read the Full Article at Modern Healthcare.


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