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New Law Adds to Hospital Discharge Protections

Governor Charlie Baker has signed into law the Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable (CARE) Act, which gives hospital patients the right to designate a caregiver who will be advised of the patient’s discharge or transfer plans with the right to discuss these with hospital personnel. Specifically,

  • The hospital patient is provided with an opportunity to designate a family caregiver;
  • The family caregiver is notified if the patient is to be discharged to another facility or back home; and,
  • The facility must provide an explanation and live instruction of the medical tasks – such as medication management, injections, wound care, and transfers – that the family caregiver will perform at home.

Here’s the language of the Act:

A hospital shall notify the patient’s designated caregiver of the patient’s discharge or
transfer as soon as practicable upon issuance of a discharge or transfer order by the patient’s treating healthcare provider. The hospital shall further provide the designated caregiver with a copy of the patient’s discharge plan and discuss the patient’s after-care assistance needs; . . .
The discussion with the caregiver shall occur in a manner agreed to by the caregiver and
the hospital, provided that such discussion shall take into consideration: the severity of the
patient’s condition; the setting in which after-care is to be delivered; and the urgency of the need for caregiver services.
The discussion of after-care assistance shall include: a general demonstration of the
known after-care tasks with an opportunity for the caregiver and patient to ask questions and receive answers about the after-care tasks prior to discharge; information about available community resources and long-term care support services near the patient’s residence that may be used to support the discharge plan, as appropriate, and the hospital contact information to address follow up questions about after-care tasks following the patient’s discharge from that hospital.

This law, which is being pushed nationally by the AARP, is meant to help families of patients plan for their care. Too often, health care institutions act in a peremptory fashion, permitting little input by family members or even informing them of discharge and transfer plans. This often leaves the families to pick up the pieces and trying to determine how to care for a loved one at the same time their normal family, work and life obligations continue. This new law can go some way towards easing these transitions and should permit better after-care for hospital patients.

However, the law does not offer any new discharge rights to those already on the books.  Learn more about such discharge protections.

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