Officials Say Universal Transfer Form Will Improve Patient Safety

STATE — When a nursing home patient is transported to a hospital or a patient returns to an assisted living facility, a real time clinical record—including vital signs, diagnosis, medications, allergies and respiratory needs—will travel with the patient on a one page standardized form that 1,900 licensed health care facilities in New Jersey are required to use on Oct. 30.

New Jersey is one of the first—if not the only—state in the nation to require the Universal Transfer Form (UTF) to be used by hospitals, long-term care facilities, ambulatory care facilities, assisted living facilities and home health agencies.

“Accurate patient information at the time of transfer allows staff to begin caring for a patient upon arrival, improving patient care, reducing medical errors and streamlining the admission process,” said Health and Senior Services Commissioner Mary E. O’Dowd.

“Knowledge of up-to-date clinical information will prevent patients from getting injured and will help patients recover with fewer complications,” the commissioner added.

The one-page UTF was designed, tested, piloted and refined over the past three years by a taskforce comprised of leaders from the long-term care, hospital and home health industries as well as Health Care Quality Strategies Inc., a federally funded quality improvement organization.

The Health Care Association of New Jersey, New Jersey Hospital Association, LeadingAge New Jersey (formerly the New Jersey Association of Homes and Services for the Aging), Home Health Care Association of New Jersey, Rutgers University and other stakeholder groups joined the Department in working to develop the form.

“A Universal Transfer Form has been a goal of New Jersey’s health care system for many years. Anyone who moves within the health care system will have a synopsis of their prognosis, critical care needs and treatment plan,” said Paul Langevin, president of the Health Care Association of New Jersey.

The Universal Transfer Form “will do more than any single thing to improve patient care and outcomes,” Langevin predicted.

“Hospitals increasingly are working hand-in-hand with post-acute partners like skilled nursing facilities and home health agencies to ensure seamless care,” said Betsy Ryan, president and chief executive officer of the New Jersey Hospital Association (NJHA). “The universal transfer form promotes coordination and communication – which in turns helps us deliver quality healthcare to our patients,” Ryan said.

Four regional information sessions have already been held to introduce health care professionals to the form and ensure that they are aware of the new state requirement. Two additional sessions are scheduled Oct. 12 and 18. The meetings are being held jointly with the DHSS and the various provider associations – the Health Care Association of New Jersey, Leading Age NJ, NJHA and the Home Care Association of New Jersey.

O’Dowd added that the collaboration is an example of the Department’s commitment to work with health care organizations across New Jersey to improve the quality of care provided to its residents.

EMS providers are being educated about the need for the form to accompany all patients transported between facilities but EMS providers will still be required to maintain their EMS patient care records.

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