Massachusetts hospitals required to develop dementia care plan by 2021

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Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker signed first-in-the-nation legislation last week that aims to improve Alzheimer's treatment and diagnosis, The Boston Globe reports.

"No other state in the country has something like this," Daniel Zotos of the Alzheimer's Association told the Globe.

The legislation requires physicians, physician assistants and nurses to receive training in diagnosing, treating and caring for patients with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia before they can obtain or renew their licenses.

Physicians who have diagnosed a patient with Alzheimer's must also tell a family member or legal representative about the diagnosis.

The law requires all hospitals to develop and implement a plan for recognizing and managing patients with dementia by no later than Oct. 1, 2021.

Patricia Noga, PhD, RN and vice president of clinical affairs for the Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association, said hospitals already had begun developing their Alzheimer's plans before the bill was finalized.

Meeting that requirement will be a challenge for Massachusetts hospitals. Margaret Foley, BSN, MSN and director of care management at Concord, Mass.-based Emerson Hospital, told the Globe about changes ahead for the 179-bed hospital.

Emerson plans to post a purple information sheet in each patient room to help staff interact with dementia patients. The sheet includes the patient's nickname, their pet's name, their past, what makes them anxious and what calms them down.

The hospital also is examining ways to identify dementia patients when they arrive in the emergency room and find a location for them away from stress-inducing noises.

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