(TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Daniel Benson, Jamel Holley, Joe Danielsen and Wayne DeAngelo to ensure hospital staff is well-informed to deliver proper care and oversight for patients suffering from Alzheimer's and dementia was approved by the General Assembly on Thursday, 70-0.
The bill (A-918) would require hospitals to clearly note on a patient's medical records whether they have dementia-related disorders.
"From supervising my mother's health needs for years, I understand the unique level of care that Alzheimer's patients require," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "This simple annotation will alert hospital staff to be more vigilant in their oversight of patients suffering from Alzheimer's, dementia or other related conditions."
"This is in everyone's best interests," said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "Dementia and Alzheimer's patients and their family deserve the peace of mind that comes with knowing that the hospital is uniquely attuned to the needs of their loved one."
Specifically, the bill would require a health care professional or appropriate staff member to include a notation in a patient's medical record indicating that the patient has an increased risk of confusion, agitation, behavioral problems, and wandering due to a dementia related disorder, if such notation is requested by the patient's caregiver.
"This bill is designed to assist hospitals with enhancing the quality of care provided to patients with Alzheimer's disease and related disorders, offering additional protections for these patients to remain safe while in the care of hospitals," said Holley (D-Union).
The notation may be included in the patient's medical record at the time the patient is admitted to the hospital or to the hospital emergency department or when the patient is examined by a health care professional, and shall be prominently displayed in the medical record.
"If a patient suffering from dementia or Alzheimer's is being treated at a hospital for unrelated issues, staff might not be aware of their underlying condition," said Danielsen (D-Middlesex/Somerset). "This will help ensure hospital personnel are well-informed, especially when a patient can't speak up for themselves."
"There are a myriad of factors that hospital staff must contend with when caring for patients with a cognitive impairment that don't often come into play with other patients," said DeAngelo (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "This will alert them to that right off the bat so they can be proactive."
"A clear notation of an Alzheimer or dementia condition on a patient's medical record should be required in hospitals," said McKnight (D- Hudson). "This legislation helps hospitals maintain the quality of care for patients with cognitive disorders and provide the attention necessary to ensure their safety."
"As a hospital administration professional, I understand the critical importance of maintaining the quality of care for all patients," said Sumter (D- Bergen, Passaic). "Patients with Alzheimer's and dementia disorders present particular needs and deserve the proper attention. It can be given as long as hospital staff provided information on their patients' condition."
The bill was approved by the Assembly Health and Senior Services committee on November 30. It will now go to the Senate for further consideration.
Originally posted by the NJ Assembly Democrats.