The Capital Gazette.
The patients often lack a legal guardian and cannot care for
themselves. Many have advanced dementia or a psychiatric illness. If
case managers cannot find relatives to assign as guardians, the hospital
must go through the county circuit court to appoint two people: one to
make care decisions and the other to make financial decisions.
In the meantime, hospitals such as Glen Burnie-based Baltimore
Washington Medical Center are not allowed to discharge the patients to
long-term care facilities. Patients who lack guardians spend an average
of 90 days at BWMC. "This is taking up beds for acute needs," said Beth
Tingo, RN, BWMC's director of population health.
BWMC had 14 guardianship cases in 2017, 16 in 2018 and 19 in 2019 so
far. The patients have waited a combined 3,000 days for discharge since
2017. The hospital does not know why there has been an increase in
guardianship cases, Ms. Tingo said.
Annapolis, Md.-based Anne Arundel Medical Center's ED has also seen
an uptick in such cases, with 18 over the past two years, according to
Barbara Jacobs, RN, the hospital's chief nursing officer. The issue may
be due to the increase in families moving away and leaving behind aging
relatives, Ms. Jacobs said.
Full Article & Source:
Uptick in 'guardianship cases' leave Maryland patients in EDs for months