Diegnan, Lampitt, Egan & Quijano Bill to Monitor & Prevent Cardiac Tragedies in Children Gets Final Legislative OK

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr., Pamela Lampitt, Joseph Egan and Annette Quijano to monitor cardiac tragedies in children in order to help prevent future tragedies received final legislative approval Thursday and now heads to the governor’s desk.

“Too many children have been taken from us far too soon because of sudden and undetected cardiac conditions,” said Diegnan (D-Middlesex), who was a sponsor of Janet’s Law, which was enacted last year to require all New Jersey schools to have automated external defibrillators. “By providing schools and communities throughout New Jersey with this information, we can help improve the survival rates of children who experience sudden cardiac events.”

The bill (A-3047/S-1911), named the “Children’s Sudden Cardiac Events Reporting Act,” would require the reporting of children’s sudden cardiac events and establish a statewide database as a repository for the information. Under the bill, “sudden cardiac event” is defined as a death or aborted death due to a cardiac arrhythmia resulting in loss of consciousness requiring cardiopulmonary resuscitation, defibrillation, or other advanced life support measures to regain normal heart function.

“Sudden cardiac arrest is far more common in children than one might think and we’ve seen our fair share of tragedies in New Jersey in recent years,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). “The collection and documentation of this data is essential for policymakers and health care professionals to determine the most effective way to allocate personnel, training, equipment, and resources to save the greatest number of lives.”

“From a public health perspective, these measures are necessary to improve the efforts of schools, families, policymakers, and health care professionals,” said Egan (D-Middlesex/Somerset). “Ultimately our goal is to help prevent sudden cardiac events in children and boost survival rates.”

“Roughly 7,000 children fall victim to sudden cardiac arrest in this country each year,” said Quijano (D-Union). “For the families they left behind, there may never be enough we can do to get a better grasp on this silent killer, but requiring defibrillators in schools, like we’ve done, and boosting our efforts to monitor this disease is a good starting point.”

Specifically, the bill stipulates that:

  • A health care professional (a physician or registered professional nurse licensed in New Jersey) who makes the diagnosis of a sudden cardiac event in a child 12-19 years of age, or who makes the actual determination and pronouncement of death for a child, must report the sudden cardiac event to the state Department of Health (DOH).
  • Among the details required to be included in writing are the name and address of the health care professional submitting the report, the name, age, and address of the child, and other pertinent information as may be required by the commissioner. However, if the child’s parent or guardian objects to the reporting of the child’s condition for any reason, the report is not to include any information that could be used to identify the child.
  • The commissioner is to specify procedures for the health care professional to inform the child’s parent or guardian of the reporting requirements, as well as the parent’s or guardian’s right to refuse to permit the reporting of any information that could be used to identify the child.
  • The reports made pursuant to the bill are to be used only by DOH and other agencies as may be designated by the commissioner, and are not to otherwise be divulged or made public so as to disclose the identity of any person to whom they relate.
  • An 11-member Children’s Sudden Cardiac Events Review Board will be established in DOH to evaluate the information reported, and to study any other relevant data.

The bill would take effect on the first day of the seventh month after enactment, but authorizes the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services to take prior administrative action as necessary for implementation.

The bill was approved 75-0 by the Assembly on Thursday, and by a vote of 39-0 by the Senate in October.