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Proposed Amendment to Hospital Licensing Standards Requiring Designation of After-Care Assistance Caregiver

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On June 19, 2017, the New Jersey Department of Health (DOH) released proposed amendments and new rules under hospital licensing standards aimed at better defining the content and scope of instructions hospitals must offer non-paid caregivers who agree to perform necessary after-care tasks for hospital patients discharged to their place of residence. In November 2014, Chris Christie approved P.L. 2014, c. 68, which directed the Commissioner of the DOH to promulgate rules addressing this issue with the goal of improving the quality of patient care, reducing hospital readmissions and lowering overall healthcare costs. In response, the DOH met with several interested parties, including the New Jersey Hospital Association, the New Jersey Council of Teaching Hospitals and the American Association of Retired Persons to conduct a comprehensive analysis of caregiver services currently provided in New Jersey, which is reflected in these new proposed amendments and rules.

The proposed amendments and rules include, but are not limited to, establishing new definitions for certain terms such as “discharge plan” and “discharge planning team” and delineating specific actions a hospital must take with regard to a patient’s designated caregiver. For example, general acute care hospitals will be required to ask patients who have been deemed able to return to their residence by the hospital’s discharge planning team if they would like to designate a caregiver to provide after-care tasks on their behalf. If the patient opts to designate a caregiver, before the patient is discharged, the hospital must offer “after-care assistance” training to the designated caregiver that is either live or recorded at the election of the caregiver. Caregivers would also be able to ask hospital staff questions about the discharge plan and their training.

Written comments on the proposed amendments and rules must be submitted electronically or by regular mail to the DOH by August 18, 2017.

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