U.S. Capital

Study Reveals Need for Nursing Homes to Improve Advance Directives

Apr 26, 2017

San Francisco, CA (Law Firm Newswire) April 26, 2017 – Nursing homes should implement better procedures for end-of-life directives, according to the results of a new study published in Health and Social Work. Past research has indicated that not only do advance directives help improve end-of-life care for nursing home residents but they also cut health care costs.

“Advance directives honor an individual’s expressed wishes about health care. Every adult age 18 and over should sign an advance health care directive,” said estate planning attorney Mark Gilfix. “It is very important for families to discuss end-of-life wishes and health care concerns before an emergency arises. That way, no relative or nursing home staff is left guessing what type of care a person wants if they are no longer able to communicate their wishes.”

Findings from the University of Missouri School of Social Work suggest nursing homes should devote more attention to the use of advance directives. A research team examined 1,800 medical files from nursing homes in St. Louis, Missouri. They found only around 50 percent of the files included an advance directive. In many of these cases, the advance directives were hard to locate due to inadequate record keeping.

On a national level, between 65 percent and 70 percent of nursing home residents have such directives on file, said university researchers. The study concluded that by failing to include advance directives in patients’ medical records, many nursing home providers are not taking advantage of opportunities to reduce unnecessary care, honor the patient’s wishes and decrease health care costs.

According to Colleen Galambos, a professor at the university and the study’s lead author, the findings show a need for health care providers to designate a special section in medical records for advance directives. In addition, she suggested nursing home staff should be reminded about the necessity of checking directives.

“In the nursing home setting, some providers use aggressive end-of-life care, even if it is not in a person’s best interest or against a resident’s wishes,” Galambos said in a statement. “There is no reason for adults not to have an advance directive, and most nursing home residents should have an advance directive on file to ensure that they receive the type of end-of-life care they desire.”

Advance directives are legal documents that allow a person to choose how they want certain health care decisions to be made in the event of a serious injury or illness that renders them incapable of making such decisions for themselves. They outline preferences related to end-of-life care and provide a means avoid interventions that are unwanted or of limited benefit.

Gilfix & La Poll Associates LLP
2300 Geng Rd., Suite 200
Palo Alto, CA 94303
Telephone: (650) 493-8070

Facebook: Like Us!

  • Autism costs rise dramatically with age: study
    Caring for individuals with autism and other special needs tends to involve a lifetime of expenses, whether it is paying for caregivers, accommodation or daily necessities. A study from the University of California, Davis (UCD), shows California spends significantly more on adults with autism compared to children who have the disorder. Researchers found state expenditures […]
  • Military retirees can now use special needs trusts for SBP payments
    Military families with special needs children face a number of difficulties when planning for their future financial security. However, a new law now allows military retirees more flexibility and peace of mind with the way their Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) can be paid upon their passing. The SBP allows retired military members to designate up […]
  • Estate planning implications of winning the lottery
    Although winning the lottery can be exciting, it carries enormous estate and gift tax implications. Finances can dwindle away in no time if they are not managed properly. Lottery winners have the option of taking the prize as a lump sum or an annuity that is divided into 30 annual payments. California exempts lottery winnings […]
  • Why young adults should consider estate planning
    Under California law, once a child turns 18 years of age they are viewed as an adult. Entering adulthood involves taking steps to prepare for the unexpected, whether it is a sudden illness or a serious accident. No one likes to think of themselves in such terrible circumstances in which they are unable to make […]
  • Smartphone app helps nonverbal children communicate through symbols
    Predictive typing firm SwiftKey has launched a smartphone app that aims to provide special needs children with an easier way to communicate. SwiftKey Symbols is described as an assistive symbol-based communication app specially designed for children with autism and other learning difficulties. It can be used by other nonverbal individuals as well. The company’s contextual […]