Bill would require hospitals to provide discharge data

The Associated Press
Wednesday May 23, 2001

SACRAMENTO — Mel Hurok remembers watching his wife Barbara suffer in a nursing home, then suffer more each time she was transferred to a hospital. 

Suffering from diabetes that caused liver and pancreas failure, she was transferred four times between nursing homes and hospitals before she died in January 2000 at age 68. Each time she was moved, she seemed to be put through the same medical tests all over again. 

“I am too weak and too sick with these transports,” Hurok remembers his wife of 35 years telling him. “You’re killing me.” 

Hurok, who lives in Montclair east of Los Angeles, is now pushing lawmakers to approve a bill that would spare others the same pain. The measure, introduced by Sen. Nell Soto, D-Pomona, would require hospitals to provide some patients with detailed information about their condition when they’re released or transferred to other facilities. 

Up for a vote before the full Senate on Thursday, the bill would require hospitals to provide a discharge plan to patients they determine are likely to suffer health problems without one. 

It would also ensure that a summary of their treatment would follow patients when they go to skilled nursing or care facilities, including details about the medication they’ve already taken and follow-up care. 

“All the bill does is provide full disclosure to patients about their health status – some written instructions on the condition,” Soto said. 

Although she believes the bill will be opposed by the hospitals, Soto said, “It’s not right for doctors not to leave orders.” 

A spokesman for the California Association of Health Plans said the group doesn’t have a position on the bill at this time. 

Under the current law, patients have the right to receive information about their condition if they request it, but the bill would require hospitals to inform patients about details of their follow-up care, even if they don’t request it. 

Hurok hopes his wife’s story will help persuade legislators to spare others. Mismanagement of his wife’s case went beyond excessive tests. He remembers catching caregivers giving her the wrong food and putting sugar in her coffee even though she was diabetic. 

“They were constantly having to call 911,” he said.