Calif. law re­quires iden­ti­fy­ing fam­ily care­givers for pa­tients

Modern Healthcare - - REGIONAL NEWS - —Michael Sandler

A new Cal­i­for­nia law that re­quires hos­pi­tals to iden­tify and en­gage a fam­ily care­giver for dis­charged pa­tients is rais­ing con­cerns about its prac­ti­cal­ity.

As of Jan. 1, Cal­i­for­nia hos­pi­tals are re­quired to iden­tify a care­giver dur­ing a pa­tient’s hos­pi­tal­iza­tion and in­form that care­giver of the in­di­vid­ual’s dis­charge date and in­struc­tions, such as med­i­ca­tion sched­ules. Hos­pi­tals are still re­quired to main­tain pri­vacy re­quire­ments and can­not release in­for­ma­tion with­out the pa­tient’s con­sent. About a dozen states have passed sim­i­lar laws.

Supporters such as the AARP say it will im­prove the qual­ity of the tran­si­tion to the home set­ting and re­duce read­mis­sions. The law will stim­u­late con­ver­sa­tions about in­di­vid­ual pref­er­ences and ca­pa­bil­i­ties to help loved ones re­main in­de­pen­dent, said Suzanne Reed, chief of staff for the bill’s spon­sor, Sen. Carol Liu.

Al­though it didn’t take a po­si­tion on the bill, the Cal­i­for­nia Hos­pi­tal As­so­ci­a­tion said it sup­ports poli­cies that lead to ef­fec­tive care tran­si­tions and stressed the im­por­tance of fam­ily care­givers in pa­tients’ re­cov­ery.

But Reed ac­knowl­edged that fam­ily dy­nam­ics some­times get in the way of a dis­charge plan. An iden­ti­fied fam­ily mem­ber may not be in­ter­ested in car­ry­ing out the re­quired du­ties, or the care­giver may clash with other fam­ily mem­bers.

Hos­pi­tals will in­form care­givers of pa­tients’ dis­charge date.

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