TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Richard J. Codey and Senator Ronald L. Rice to improve care for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia was released today by the Senate Health Committee.
The bill (S-377) would require healthcare professionals, at the time of taking a medical history or performing a physical examination of a patient admitted to an emergency room or hospital, to include a notation in the patient’s medical record if he or she has Alzheimer’s disease or related disorders. The notation is to be prominently displayed in the record.
“I know firsthand the challenges of Alzheimer’s disease because I watched its devastating effects as it seized my father’s life. Patients with Alzheimer’s have diverse needs and present unique risks, especially in hospital settings,” said Senator Codey (D-Essex and Morris). “Ensuring that healthcare professionals are aware of their condition can prevent avoidable situations like patients wandering away from hospitals and endangering themselves. It affords them the safety they need and the care they deserve.”
Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, and the only cause of death among the top ten that cannot be prevented, cured or slowed. It is also one of the costliest chronic diseases in the United States, costing an estimated $226 billion a year and expected to rise as high as $1.1 trillion by 2050.
“The goal of this legislation is to assist in the effective care of patients, ensuring that all hospital staff who come into contact with individuals who suffer from Alzheimer’s are aware of their condition and will treat them accordingly and with due consideration to their needs and risks,” added Senator Rice (D-Essex). “It will provide healthcare workers with useful information to do their jobs and patients better care.”
It is estimated that 5.3 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia. At the current pace, the number of individuals with the disease is expected to reach 16 million by 2050 in the United States and over 115 million globally. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there were approximately 170,000 senior citizens in New Jersey with Alzheimer’s in 2015, or about 12 percent of seniors.
The bill was released from the Senate Health Committee by a vote of 8-0 and now heads to the full Senate for consideration.