You may or may not be caring for an elderly parent. Your spouse or perhaps your child may be sick and in need of a hospital stay. These are all situations that we hope don’t happen but unfortunately they can. When and if they do happen you may not be thinking of next steps or what to do next when they finally get to come home after hopefully a short hospital stay.
Recently a coworker was rushed to the hospital from work. Can you imagine coming into work feeling fine and then later on symptoms pop up out of nowhere? Next thing you know you are being whisked off to the hospital and then needing emergency surgery? You wouldn’t think that this is how your day would end right?
But imagine being on the other end of that phone call from a strange number – a coworker or hospital personnel calling to notify you that your loved one is ill and you need to come right away. I’ve been on the other end of those calls for both my Mom and my Dad. I can tell you that it’s not fun but as an only child it’s what I had to do. I was honored to be there in that way for my parents. Luckily I’ve been able to set things up to be their healthcare proxy. Did you know that as an adult child you’d have to be designated as a proxy or listed as a contact by your parent so the hospital can share information with you? HIPPA privacy laws were established to protect the privacy of patient health records. However, this may prevent the doctors or facilities from disclosing that information to you. Each day, millions of Americans are caring for parents, spouses, children and adults with disabilities and other loved ones and they don’t have to be informed about patients care needs. Do you know your rights?
An important bill called The Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable (CARE) Act (aka Raise Family Caregivers Act) went into effect January 1, 2017.
So what does this mean? Well in my experience I’ve always been the point of contact for my parents and I’ve always been involved in their care. While this has not been my experience, some hospitals send unsuspecting patients home without help or without instructions on what they need to do next after their stay. Did you know that your parents or loved ones are not required to designate caregivers, and caregivers are not obligated to perform after-care tasks for them? However, we all know that if they need assistance you’ll be right there to help them out. While some patients may be self-sufficient and capable, others are not and need the help. Even if they don’t need tons of assistance, someone else should be aware of things just in case. This bill just reinforces the fact that the facility or hospital will need to disclose important information to you if the patient authorizes.
Simply Put – The 3 main provisions of this act:
- When a patient enters the hospital, the name of a family member or other designated person must be recorded and included in the patient’s discharge plan.
- The hospital must notify the caregiver when they are ready to be discharged.
- They hospital must inform you of what needs to be done and show you what to do once the patient returns home – i.e. wound care, medication management, injections, and transfers.
More than 30 states, including my home state of NY, have adopted this bill. It seems like a relatively simple provision, but how many people were not informed and had no clue of what to do when their loved one got home. Knowing your rights and what you can do can help limit readmission to the hospital. As you become more knowledgeable you develop into the best advocate for your loved one.