|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 11, 2019
DHA Applauds General Assembly on Introduction of
Medical Guardianship Bill
Much-Needed Task Force Would Examine Patient Abandonment at Hospitals
(DOVER, DE – April 11, 2019) Today, Senate Majority Leader Nicole Poore and Representative Ray Seigfried introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution 30
which would establish a study group examining patient abandonment at hospitals. Typically, when a patient recovers to the point that their health status is no longer acute, they are discharged to recover at home or in the care of a skilled nursing, long-term care, or other appropriate facility. When individuals are unable to make decisions for themselves, they may require a family member or a guardian to act as the decision-maker to facilitate the transition to an appropriate non-hospital setting. In some cases, family members abandon the hospitalized patient. The lack of adequate numbers of public guardians available to make necessary medical decisions compounds the problem, leaving the patient to languish in the hospital long after they should go home or to a facility designed to meet their daily living needs.
“We thank Senator Poore and Representative Seigfried for introducing this important legislation to address patient abandonment and facilitate patients’ transition to a more appropriate care setting after their period of acuity ends,” said Delaware Healthcare Association President and CEO Wayne Smith. “No patient should linger in a hospital room when they do not require hospitalization. Some patients are caught for months or even over a year due to abandonment and the lack of timely acquisition of a guardian to make appropriate decisions for those incapable of doing so themselves. Allowing for a timely appointment of a guardian will also free these patients to receive home care or care in an appropriate setting designed to meet their daily living needs.”
A recent Delaware Healthcare Association survey of Delaware hospitals over a two-year period found that 115 extended stay patients were in hospital a total of 11,398 days beyond their period of acuity. Of these patients, 110.7 days was the average length of stay beyond their period of acuity, and the longest length of stay by a single patient was 581 days beyond their period of acuity. Three Delaware hospitals saw the longest length of stay among non-acute patients exceed one year.
If passed, the study group created by the bill would be comprised of legislators, state officials, the Public Guardian, Court of Chancery, and other stakeholders and would submit a final report to members of the Delaware General Assembly and the Governor.
About the Delaware Healthcare Association
The Delaware Healthcare Association (DHA) was formed in 1967 to assist Delaware hospitals in working on issues concerning health care and the hospital industry.DHA is a statewide trade and membership services organization that serves as a leader in the promotion of effective change in health services through collaboration and consensus building on health care issues at the State and Federal levels.DHA’s vision is to be the leading and respected voice for hospitals and health care delivery systems in Delaware working together to deliver compassionate, accessible, high quality, financially sustainable health care to the patients and communities they serve.DHA’s mission is to provide policy and advocacy leadership in creating an excellent environment for enabling every Delawarean to be as healthy as they