New California Law Requires Better Communication Between Hospitals and Caregivers

A new law in California mandates hospitals recognize and involve family caregivers during hospital admissions and discharges in order to reduce the barriers for better care.

A new law in California mandates hospitals recognize and involve family caregivers during hospital admissions and discharges. The law provides stability to the role of family caregivers by ensuring that they are well-informed at all times about their loved one, even after their discharge from the hospital.

The law is largely influenced by a 2015 study by AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving, which found that roughly 40 million Americans have assumed the role of primary caregivers outside of hospital.

However, during times of hospitalization, the role of these caregivers is often discounted. They are not kept in the loop of hospital discussions. Similarly, during discharge, the caregivers are handed over stacks of papers without much medical explanation, leaving family caregivers clueless about the dispensing of care and attention once outside the hospital premises. This is especially troubling because around 46% of the caregivers perform medical duties such as giving injections—and a majority of which do so without any medical training or guidance.

However, the new law requires hospitals to be in constant communication with caregivers regarding the illness and the care afterward. Hospital professionals will be required to keep the caregivers in loop, which in turn will reduce the barriers for better care.

The new law, SB 675, comes into effect starting this month and guarantees the involvement of the caregiver at each step of hospitalization. Sponsored by State Senator Carol Liu, the new mandate has gained huge support from communities as it will benefit the patients’ overall health and decrease their chances of readmission. The hospitals are still required to follow privacy laws and cannot release information without the patient’s approval.

While supporters of the new rule couldn’t be happier, some hospital associations think otherwise. According to some staff members, they already include caregivers in the discharge planning process. With a law coming into effect, their work will only be increased manifold. Including caregivers at every step of the hospitalization process requires special allocation of extra time and hands getting tied down to new regulations.

California has become among the 18 states that have implemented the new law over the past 2 years. Other states that have already put the ruling into effect include Arkansas, New Hampshire, Oregon and Virginia.