Family of nursing home resident forced to arbitrate wrongful death claim

Lola Norton was a nursing home resident. After her death, her husband brought a wrongful death claim against PruittHealth - Taccoa. The alleged injuries are unimportant for purposes of this blog article.

The nursing home responded to the lawsuit by showing where Kim, Lola's daugher and agent under Lola's power of attorney, signed an arbitration agreement. Presumably it was part of the admissions package. In other words, the nursing home didn't want a jury deciding the case. 

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The Impact of Caregiving

A recent article in Health Affairs Blog explores the role of family caregivers in the long-term care setting. The following extract addresses some of the burdens of caregiving:

"However, family caregiving can take a large financial, emotional, and physical toll on the caregiver. According to the AARP, the value of informal caregiving provided to adults was approximately $470 billion in 2013. Additionally, close to one out of 10 Americans over the age of 40 are both providing LTSS assistance to a family member and supporting a child. The emotional, social, physical, and financial burden on this “sandwich generation,” is significant."

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Article: Patients With Dementia Present Communication Challenges In Hospice Care

Caregivers of those with dementia know that decision-making is challenging. The following extract from an article addresses problems with communication.

"Finster has had dementia for 10 years. She has spent most of that time in facilities with increasing levels of care, moving from an independent living facility, to assisted living to memory care. Mantua has felt some of the frustration that caregivers of other patients with dementia have experienced. Three or four years ago, when Finster still  had a phone in her room, she sometimes called her son Les — Mantua’s older brother — 10 times to leave him the same message that people were coming into her room and stealing her food. She simply forgot that she had called before." (emphasis added)

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Patient’s Right to Direct Health Decisions Affirmed

On July 5, 2016, in Doctors Hospital of Augusta v. Alicea, 2016 Ga. LEXIS 448 (2016), the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed lower court decisions denying a motion for summary judgment. In doing so, the Court interpreted the Georgia Advanced Directive Act, O.C.G.A. § 31-32-1 et seq., holding that it is the will of the patient or her designated agent, and not the will of the health care provider, that controls health decisions.

On November 12, 2009, Bucilla Stephenson executed an advance directive naming Jacqueline Alicea, her granddaughter, as health agent. Stephenson was 89 years old at the time. The advance directive specified that Alicea was authorized to make health care decisions for Stephenson in accordance with what Alicea deteremined to be in Stephenson’s best interest. The advance directive also said: “My agent shall make health-care decisions for me in accordance with this power of attorney for health care, any instructions I give in this form, and my other wishes to the extent known to my agent. To the extent my wishes are unknown, my agent shall make health-care decisions for me in accordance with what my agent determines to be in my best interest. In determining my best interest, my agent shall consider my personal values to the extent known to my agent.”

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Questions regarding Health Reform

If you are searching for answers regarding health reform, otherwise known as Obamacare, one of the best places to look is on the Kaiser Family Foundation website. At their Frequently asked questions page (http://kff.org/health-reform/faq/health-reform-frequently-asked-questions/), KFF answers questions such as "Can I be charged more if I have a pre-existing condition?" (http://kff.org/health-reform/faq/health-reform-frequently-asked-questions/#question-can-i-be-charged-more-if-i-have-a-pre-existing-condition). Other more general information is available at http://kff.org/health-reform/.

The official government website tp find information regarding marketplace health plans is https://www.healthcare.gov/. A great place to start is the Quick Guide to the marketplace, at https://www.healthcare.gov/quick-guide/.

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