Munoz bills on end-of-life planning and palliative care head to governor’s desk

Munoz bills on end-of-life planning and palliative care head to governor’s desk

Nancy F. Munoz

TRENTON, NJ –The Assembly voted today to advance three bills sponsored by Assemblywoman Nancy F. Munoz that aim to improve care 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 requires health providers and administrative staff at hospitals and nursing homes to undergo annual end-of-life care training including 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,” said Munoz (R-Union). “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.”

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 understand how such care can help manage their symptoms and address their individual needs.”

The last bill (A4682) would require the Commissioner of Health to establish a public awareness campaign on advanced care planning and end-of-life care to disseminate information and encourage discussions earlier in the planning process.

“End-of-life discussions are difficult, but necessary. The sooner patients make their wishes known, the better prepared the family and caretakers will be,” said Munoz.

All bills have passed the Senate and now head to the governor.

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