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A law that went into effect in July of 2007, requires hospitals to better ensure that Medicare beneficiaries know their rights before being discharged, and outlines how to object when a patient or family member feels release is medically premature. While the new rules are designed to protect patients, they will require more paperwork and hours from hospital employees, including additional administrative visits to hospital rooms, which recovering persons may find bothersome. A document has long been issued to inform Medicare beneficiaries of their rights, but theold law's guidelines simply mandated it be provided within two days of a patient's admission - times often preoccupied by the immediacy and stress of tests, procedures, and results. The notification, an "Important Message from Medicare," now features a clearer explanation of patients' rights, and will be provided to families both after arrival and before departure. Hospital staff delivering the information must be able to answer questions about the policy, and for the first time, patients or their legal representatives must sign the paper. If a discharge is contested, hospitals have until noon the next day to provide detailed explanations of why a patient is ready for release and how to continue an appeal.

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