- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 27, 2015

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New York law now requires hospitals to let patients designate a family member or unrelated caregiver to receive advice on medical care, transfers to other facilities and medical needs upon the patient’s discharge.

The new law should help many of nearly 2.6 million New Yorkers who provide unpaid care to family and loved ones, as well as about 1.6 million adult New Yorkers discharged from hospitals every year, according to AARP, which lobbied for its passage. The group estimated the value of that care at almost $32 billion annually.

“Caregivers will be identified while the patient is still in the hospital, involved in the discharge plan and provided personalized instruction on post-discharge care,” said state Senate Health Committee Chairman Kemp Hannon.

The law, signed Monday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, applies to about 200 general hospitals statewide and says designated caregivers should be trained by hospital staff for tasks after patient discharge, such as changing bandages or administering medication. It authorizes the State Health Department to issue regulations to further define the content and scope of discharge instructions. The law takes effect in 180 days.

Supporters acknowledged that some hospitals already provide that level of information to family members taking someone home, but the law makes the practice of identifying and instructing caregivers uniform across the state.

“Often, the hardest part of recovery begins once a patient leaves a hospital,” Cuomo said. “This new law will allow New Yorkers to appoint someone they trust to assist in their care and help them return to their daily lives.”

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