TRENTON, NJ – The Assembly Health Committee advanced two bills, sponsored by Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz, aimed to strengthen treatment for patients with serious illnesses or dealing with end-of-life issues.
The first bill (A4683) requires certain medical facilities to undertake end-of-life planning and training.
“It’s very important to make sure patients are aware of all options when dealing with their health care or health care of a loved one,” stated Munoz (R-Union).
It requires health providers and administrative staff at hospitals and nursing homes to undergo annual end-of-life care training and the use of POLST forms and advanced directives. Facilities must also implement policies to address end-of-life care issues for patients upon admission and provide patients with information.
“This bill will put patients first and help put them in control of their care,” continued Munoz. “Patients must make intimate personal decisions and need the tools to do that with help from those who are looking out for their health and well-being.”
A medical facility found to be noncompliant, must submit a corrective action plan to the Department of Health or be subject to penalties or administrative disciplinary action.
Munoz’s second bill (A4685) would require emergency departments of general hospitals in the state to develop and implement a plan to integrate palliative care services for patients when appropriate. Palliative care is medical care that attempts to optimize the quality of life by anticipating, preventing, and treating the effects of chronic serious illness.
“Sometimes people turn to emergency rooms to receive medical relief from a serious illness that could be better managed through palliative care,” said Munoz. “These patients need to be informed of how such care can help manage their symptoms and address their individual needs.”
Both bills have passed the Senate.