TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Richard J. Codey and Senator Ronald L. Rice to improve care for those with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia advanced from the Senate Health, Human Services, and Senior Citizens Committee today.
“Patients in hospitals with Alzheimer’s have unique needs and pose distinctive risks. Their condition must be known to the health care professionals responsible for their care so that they receive the attention they need,” said Senator Codey (D-Essex/Morris). “This can prevent avoidable situations like patients wandering from hospitals and endangering themselves. It’s common sense that we allow a patient’s medical record to reflect their condition to enable their effective care.”
The bill, S-1146, would require healthcare professionals to include a notation in the patients’ medical records indicating that the patient has an increased risk of confusion, agitation, behavioral problems, and wandering due to a dementia-related disorder, if requested by the patients’ caregivers. The notation would be included in the patients’ medical records at the time of hospital admittance or when the patient is examined by a health care professional, and shall be prominently displayed in the medical record. If the patient is transferred, there is a notation on the universal transfer form indicating the transfer. If possible, there would also be a notation on the patient’s electronic medical record as well.
Alzheimer’s is the fifth 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.
“Making hospital staff who interact with Alzheimer’s patients aware of their condition will not only help ensure better care for the patients, but it give health care workers the information necessary to do their jobs in the best way possible,” added Senator Rice (D-Essex). “Alzheimer’s is quickly becoming a major medical and social issue. The better health care workers are educated on this issue the better the care will be.
An estimated 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 the seniors.
The bill was released from committee by a vote of 8-0, and next heads to the Senate for further consideration.