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 passed the Senate today.
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.
“Patients in hospitals with Alzheimer’s have unique needs and present distinctive risks. Their condition must be known to the healthcare professionals responsible for their care so that they receive the appropriate attention they need,” said Senator Codey (D-Essex and Morris). “This can prevent avoidable situations like patients wandering from hospitals and endangering themselves. It’s common sense that a patient’s medical record clearly reflects their condition to enable their effective care.”
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.
“This legislation is intended to safeguard patients in hospital settings who suffer from Alzheimer’s and to ensure they are receiving adequate care for their needs. All hospital staff who come into contact with Alzheimer’s patients should be aware of their condition and act accordingly,” added Senator Rice (D-Essex). “Not only will this help provide better care for the patients, but it will ensure that healthcare workers have the right information to do their jobs in the best way they possibly can.”
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 passed the Senate with a vote of 40-0 and now heads to the Assembly for consideration.