Bill aims to share medical information to patient caregivers

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BATON ROUGE — When Tracette Hillman took her father home from the hospital after his multiple brain surgeries, she received little instruction on how to clean and care for the tube in his throat. Instead, she taught herself.

“I sat in my father’s hospital room all day long, watching them do everything, so I could know what to do, how to take care of him,” Hillman said.

AARP Louisiana doesn’t think it should have been that way and is pushing legislation that aims to better inform caregivers about the medical tasks they’ll need to perform when they take patients — most often their family members — home from the hospital.

The measure coasted through the Senate health committee, with the support of the Louisiana Hospital Association, and could come up for full Senate consideration this week.

AARP Louisiana estimates 660,000 people are caring for aging parents or other loved ones, support that helps keep people out of nursing homes and off government aid programs. The need for volunteer assistance is expected to grow as millions of people are living longer.

But providing that care can be stressful.

“They’re performing very complicated tasks for folks with chronic illness, and these include managing medication, preparing food for special diets, dealing with monitors and other special equipment,” Andrew Muhl, advocacy director for AARP Louisiana, told senators.

By receiving more information before someone leaves the hospital, “they have a better chance to keep their loved one safely at home,” Muhl said.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Yvonne Dorsey Colomb, D-Baton Rouge, would require hospitals to give each patient the opportunity to designate a caregiver. Hospitals would have to attempt to consult with designated caregivers and give them discharge plans describing patients’ after-care assistance needs.
Twenty-one other states have similar laws on the books.

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