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NURSING HOME DEATH AND INJURY IS STILL A MAJOR PROBLEM

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This week another tragic, unnecessary nursing home death occurred in Orange County. And although there were a series of events that led to the death of this man, the most important factor was that his Advance Health Care Directive document was not followed. The staff thought they were following this patient’s directive, but in fact, the staff had incorrectly written the fact sheet instructions and the man died unnecessarily.

Only about 20% of Americans have a directive document, but it is one of the most important documents a person can have. Basically the Advanced Health Care Directive is the best way to make known your health care wishes if you are incapacitated and can’t communicate your wishes.

We all remember the Terry Schiavo case from Florida. Family members all had different stories of what this women “would have wanted”, and the family and attorneys ended up at the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, just speaking your wishes to your husband or wife does not automatically ensure that your wishes will be honored. Here in California, the law gives you two options for your directive; you can either appoint another person who can make the decisions for you or you can be absolutely positive your desires are made known through writing your own advanced directive. Either way, it’s important to meet with a professional lawyer to discuss your legal options.

Choosing the right attorney to assist you in creating this document or any other legal data is vital. The process may be difficult, but the ramifications are enormous. Choosing a good law firm, like Allen, Flatt, Ballidis and Leslie, that can guide you through some of the difficult questions is comforting and the peace of mind that you have taken care of your personal wishes is enormous.

If you have a loved one in any type of nursing facility, it would be wise to double-check that their medical directive matches the instructions that the staff has. If you have any questions or concerns regarding a nursing home in California, visit www.nursinghomeguide.org/ for a complete listing by city or county of local elder facilities and their violations, staffing policies, and complaints.

If you’re contemplating placing a loved one in any type of facility, be sure and do your homework and make certain you are matching the best facility for your loved one. A good place to start is www.medicare.gov. On the Medicare site, you can search nursing homes by name, city, zip, state or geographical region. In addition, you can compare several homes, side by side, for any violation and staffing numbers. Staff per patient ratio is one of the major factors in choosing a good home. Finally, once you decided on a home or other facility, you may access detailed health and fire inspection reports on these homes.

For overviews of state and federal regulations, laws and patient rights, visit www.nursinghomealert.com. This website will educate you as to the laws that nursing homes must be in compliance with. They also have tips for evaluating the difference between neglect and abuse. As always, clear lines of communication with the facility are most important when you suspect something.
To avoid a serious personal injury or wrongful death, take some time to prepare your Advanced Health Care Directive. You and your family will be glad you did!

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