Bill Would Require Hospitals to Seek Family Members of Patients Unable to Communicate
The California Legislature is considering legislation that would require hospitals to "make a good-faith effort" to notify family members of patients who are unconscious or "otherwise unable to communicate," the Los Angeles Times reports (Tamaki, Los Angeles Times, 5/29). The bill (SB 1041) would require that when such patients were admitted to the emergency department, the hospital would have to make "reasonable efforts" within 24 hours to contact a family member or another person the hospital "reasonably believes has the authority to make health care decisions on behalf of the patient" (SB 1041 text, 5/29). Notification laws for patients unable to communicate have been enacted in Minnesota, Texas, Hawaii and Utah, and the Illinois Legislature recently approved similar legislation. The California Healthcare Association and the California Medical Association have not taken a position on the issue, but the proposal has won the support of the AARP. Suzanne Miller, an AARP spokesperson, said that notification laws give family members a chance to be "active" in patients' treatment. An Assembly committee will hear the proposal next month (Los Angeles Times, 5/29).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.