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Health Advocates Look to CARE Act to Reduce Readmissions

Nevada's CARE Act, which took effect Jan. 1, requires hospitals to ask patients to designate a caregiver to help after discharge. (Renown Skilled Nursing)
Nevada's CARE Act, which took effect Jan. 1, requires hospitals to ask patients to designate a caregiver to help after discharge. (Renown Skilled Nursing)
February 8, 2016

CARSON CITY, Nev. - The federal government says one in five elderly patients is back in the hospital within 30 days of leaving, so Nevada health advocates are banking on a new law, the CARE Act, to make a dent in the problem.

A 2013 report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation says Medicare spends $17 billion in taxpayer funds every year on hospital readmissions that could have been prevented.

Part of Nevada's solution is the CARE Act, passed last year, which requires hospitals to ask patients to designate a friend or family member to be their caregiver. Michael Munda, director of accreditation and regulatory compliance for Renown Health, says patients often are overwhelmed and need the guidance.

"They might not be focusing on, 'When I leave the hospital, I'm going to need X' or 'I'm going to need Y,'" says Munda. "So the hospital takes on that responsibility. We're going to start talking now about who's going to help you if you need help."

Statistics show more than half a million Nevadans serve as family caregivers and 70 percent of them perform complex medical tasks.

Munda says the CARE act will ensure much-needed coordination and training for caregivers.

"We include them in the education of the aftercare required before the patient even leaves the hospital," he says. "We have discharge phone calls and we speak with the patient and the caregiver."

After the CARE Act passed last year, many hospitals changed procedures for nurses and social services teams and updated their electronic medical records system to include caregiver information.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - NV