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In Calif., how much will families help newly released patients?


Family dynamics: The Hatfield Clan of West Virginia, in 1897, carried on a long  feud with the Kentucky-based McCoy Clan.

A California state law that takes effect Jan. 1 is aimed at making  hospital patients’ family members better able to help  patients transition home. The idea, of course, is to improve care, prevent readmissions and cut costs by keeping the patients home and not in astronomically expensive hospitals.

But, as Modern Healthcare noted,  “some warn laws like it add a layer of bureaucracy that doesn’t solve the often personal issues that could muddle a hospital discharge plan.”

The law requires hospitals to identify a caregiver(s) during a patient’s hospitalization and inform that caregiver(s) of the individual’s discharge date and  provide instructions including proper medication schedules. But hospitals still must   maintain privacy requirements and cannot release information without the patient’s consent.

Fine and dandy. But the law might inadequately address family dynamics, which, of course, can be pathological. What happens, for instance, if a family member just doesn’t want to carry out the duties of caring for the newly released patient? Or if family members clash on who does which duties and when?

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