Palliative care services are now more accessible to patients with serious and chronic illnesses in the United States. The Mayo Clinic defines palliative care as offering pain and symptom management and emotional and spiritual support when a patient faces a chronic, debilitating or life-threatening illness. Increasingly offered to patients of any age with a range of chronic illnesses such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease, palliative care may be provided at the same time as curative medical regimens to help patients tolerate side effects of disease and treatment, and proceed with everyday life. According to a recent December 22, 2014 Wall Street Journal article, palliative care programs have increased three fold over the past decade. Many hospitals have specialized palliative care programs and 80% of hospitals with 250 beds or more provide such a program.
The provision of palliative care with or without curative treatment can lead increased patient and health care provider satisfaction, equal or better symptom control, less anxiety and depression, less caregiver distress, and potential cost savings. A patient’s quality of life can be enhanced with active and effective pain and symptom management. The need for aggressive pain and symptom management often lead patients to seek out a palliative care program to manage their symptoms during a chronic or terminal illness. Some patients also choose to utilize hospice care towards the end of their life journey after receiving services from a palliative care program. With the better availability of palliative care, those patients seeking pain relief and symptom control at any stage of their chronic or terminal illness care are able to find the services to address their needs including assisting the patient and the family to navigate the often complicated medical system.
A former Florida nursing assistant pleaded guilty to wrongfully disclosing protected health information of residents in an assisted living facility. Denetria Barnes and Jakiel Bazart stole HIPAA protected records and sold the individual’s names, birth dates and social security numbers. An undercover sting with the cooperation of a number of law enforcement agencies caught the pair attempting to sell information for approximately 400 individuals for $15,000. A Florida district court judge has ordered restitution of $12,000, a sentence of 37 months in prison followed by 3 years of supervised release.
More information can be found at the US Department of Justice website http://www.justice.gov.
USA Today recently published a report about theft from nursing home resident trust funds by facility employees. According to USA Today’s analysis of data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”), more than 1,500 nursing homes have been cited since 2010 for mismanaging trust funds—of the more than 100 thefts identified, at least 10 exceeded $100,000. The report warns about inadequate oversight, at both the nursing home and state surveyor level, to effectively protect the integrity of resident funds from employee theft. Continue reading
The first Survey & Certification memo for nursing facilities was issued for Fiscal Year 2014 on October 1, 2013. S&C 14-01-NH requires nursing facilities to adopt a policy that implements basic life support measures such as basic CPR for residents in accordance with the individual resident’s advance directives. Some nursing facilities have previously adopted a policy that when a resident is found without vital signs and the resident was a full code, the facility called 911 and waited for a response from the emergency personnel. CMS has affirmatively stated that the facility implement CPR when cardiac arrest occurs for residents in accordance with their advance directives and merely waiting for emergency personnel to respond to the 911 call is inadequate. CPR certified staff must be available at all times to provide CPR when necessary. Facilities will be cited under F155 for violating a resident’s right to formulate an advance directive if the facility does not develop and successfully implement policies and procedures to assure that residents will be resuscitated in accordance with their individual advance directives.
You can find a copy of the letter here —> S&C 14-01-NH
For more information on the Survey Letter or related issues, please feel free to contact Janet Feldkamp or any member of our health care practice group for a further discussion.
Posted in Advanced Directives, Certification, Consumers, Continuing Care, Health Care, Health Care Decisions, Health Care Providers, Long Term Care, Medicare, Nursing Facility, Nursing Home, Post Acute Care, Regulatory Compliance, Residential Care, Skilled Nursing Facility, Survey and Certification Letters