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New California Law Aims To Stop Revolving Hospital Door

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Lawrence Sinclair / Flickr

Hospital personnel discuss a patient's care at his bedside, May 20, 2008.

The transition between hospital and home can be crucial for patients.

The transition between hospital and home can be crucial for patients.

A new California law is designed to make sure patients are well-cared for during that time.

The law, SB 675, requires hospitals to ask patients to identify a family caregiver, and to give that person instructions on the patient's medical needs and medications upon discharge.

Dr. Davis Cracroft, medical director at Scripps Mercy Hospital, said patients often just don’t understand their discharge instructions.

“The whole hospitalization process is traumatic," Cracroft explained. "Even the most intelligent, most astute patient may not be in a state of mind to absorb all of the information that’s kind of coming at them in a shotgun fashion.”

Tonya Soroosh, director of case management at Sharp Memorial Hospital, said the law can increase the likelihood that patients will get the right kind of care when they’re sent home.

“What we’re trying to avoid is the patient getting back out into the community setting, and then running into problems, and possibly having to be readmitted," Soroosh said.

Studies show clarifying patients’ discharge instructions can help lower the possibility of hospital readmission.

Over the last two years, 18 states have passed laws requiring that caregivers be involved in the discharge process.

Under the Affordable Care Act, hospitals with high readmission rates are penalized with lower Medicare reimbursements.


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