Christie signs bill requiring hospitals to teach family how to care for discharged patients

New Jersey today became the second state in the country to pass a law that will require hospitals to provide caregivers instructions and training on how to carry out their responsibilities when loved ones are discharged home.
The legislation was drafted at the request of the AARP, which has made passing a caregiver law a priority nationwide. Only Oklahoma has a caregiver law.
“New Jersey’s elected officials have stepped up and worked together on behalf of our state’s most passionate unpaid workers, family caregivers,” said Dave Mollen, AARP New Jersey state president.
“These family caregivers spend so many hours, months, and years of their lives giving all they can to help others. It is gratifying to know that NJ public policy can now work to help them.”
Gov. Chris Christie signed into law legislation that would let patients admitted to the hospital identify a caregiver who will be providing assistance when the patient is discharged. When the caregiver is identified, the hospital must include that person’s name, address and telephone number in the patient’s medical record, according to the bill.

Within 24 hours after a decision is made to discharge a patient, the hospital would have to contact the caregiver and share a plan outlining what the patient needs in order to recover…Training via a live or recorded demonstration of the tasks involved would be provided, as would an opportunity for the caregiver to ask questions.

The AARP says 1.75 million residents of New Jersey at any time are providing free caregiving services to their family members and friends.
“Nationwide, we spend $17 billion in Medicare funds annually on unnecessary hospital re-admissions. In New Jersey, we have a surging population of older adults and others who require long-term assistance and services,” Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz (R-Union), one of the bill’s sponsors and a nurse. “This measure will enhance patient care by enabling caregivers to provide better support to their loved ones at home and avoid costly hospital readmissions.”

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