Trenton – Legislation sponsored by Senate President Pro Tempore M. Teresa Ruiz, which would require emergency departments to integrate palliative care services into their treatment options, cleared the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee today.
“Many people with terminal illnesses go to the emergency room for symptom treatment and pain relief, but the services they receive are not always in line with their goals of care,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “Integrating questions about palliative options into our emergency room intake process can ensure patients are not being over treated in any way. In the long term, palliative care can improve a person’s quality of life and reduce the frequency of their hospital visits.”
The bill, S-3117, would require emergency departments of general hospitals to develop and implement a plan to better integrate palliative care into the services they offer. The plan would include screening for people who would benefit from palliative care and providing information on it to those people.
Palliative care is medical care that attempts to optimize quality of life by anticipating, preventing, and treating the effects of chronic serious illness. It involves pain and symptom management, as well as addressing other physical, emotional, or social needs of the person, including the need for autonomy.
The bill was released from committee by a vote of 9-0, and next heads to the full Senate for further consideration.