It made little sense: Treating people in the hospital for serious health problems, only to discharge them without making certain some form of after-care was in place.
Now in Virginia and several other states, laws are in place that seek to prevent this revolving-door situation from continuing to exist.
The Virginia General Assembly earlier this year passed what was initially called the CARE Act.
“Every hospital shall provide each patient admitted as an inpatient or his legal guardian the opportunity to designate an individual who will care for or assist the patient in his residence following discharge from the hospital and to whom the hospital shall provide information regarding the patient’s discharge plan and any follow-up care, treatment, and services that the patient may require and upon admission, shall record in the patient’s medical record the name of the individual designated by the patient, the relationship between the patient and the person, and the person’s telephone number and address,” the law, which took effect July 1, states. “If the patient fails or refuses to designate an individual to receive information regarding his discharge plan and any follow-up care, treatment, and services, the hospital shall record the patient’s failure or refusal in the patient’s medical record. For the purposes of this subsection, ‘residence’ does not include any rehabilitation facility, hospital, nursing home, assisted living facility or group home.”
The measure, which would also apply when the patient is a “she,” is intended to ensure that people go to their homes, not to their doom. The law more or less acknowledges that hospital patients can be easily confused and overwhelmed by the plethora of after-care and follow-up treatment that will go with them upon their discharge.
Patients may change the designated caregiver at any time before leaving the hospital.
“Prior to discharging a patient who has designated an individual …, the hospital shall notify the designated individual of the patient’s discharge and shall provide the designated individual with a copy of the patient’s discharge plan and instructions and information regarding any follow-up care, treatment or services that the designated individual will provide and consult with the designated individual regarding the designated individual’s ability to provide the care, treatment or services,” according to the act. “Such discharge plan shall include the name and contact information of the designated individual; a description of the follow-up care, treatment and services that the patient requires; and information, including contact information, about any health care, long-term care or other community-based services and supports necessary for the implementation of the patient’s discharge plan. “
Demonstrations of specific follow-up care tasks are also required of hospital personnel.