Friday, August 25, 2006

Long Term Care Lawsuits

This post is more of a rant than an informational post.

I just saw a commercial that discusses the horrors of some long term care facilities. It mentioned that in long term care facilities that patients are mistreated and even abused in some cases by the staff of the nursing homes.

Who made this commercial? Well a lawyer of course! They were nearly begging you to sue a long term care facility for the mistreating that your loved one has surely suffered.

To this I say.....Well, I won't use the word I want to use...But, bulls produce it and you try not to step in it.

Are there a handful of cases each year where patients are mistreated? Yes. Does this happen as often as lawyers and some media outlets would like you to believe? No.

In my years of working in health care I have met numerous health care providers, nurses, doctors, administrators, etc. I never met a person who was interested in harming a patient in any way shape or form. These people got into healthcare because they care about people, not for the money.

I say to the lawyers producing such commercials that they should be ashamed of playing on peoples fears and the few cases a year that get extraordinary media coverage.

I have heard that in Florida there are many nursing homes that do not carry certain liability insurance coverages because of the proliferation of nursing home lawsuits. Most people are aware that many retirees move to Florida in retirement for the climate and weather. Driving around Florida you will see multiple billboards advertising for lawyers that want to help you sue a nursing home.

As a result of the eagerness to sue, the costs of liability insurance are far too excessive for many long term care facilities to afford, therefore they do not carry it. This means that one substantiated expensive lawsuit will close down one of these facilities. On the other hand, if they did carry the insurance, they would have to close anyway because they could not maintain their budgets.

My point is that frivolous lawsuits are driving health care costs through the roof. Would I sue a long term care facility for malicious mistreatment of a a loved one? Yes.

Malicious mistreatment is unacceptable.

Medical mistakes made by human beings are unfortunately inevitable.

Long term care insurance can help you to try and avoid some of these issues by helping you to be able to afford the higher quality long term care. If you rely on Medicaid then you are limiting yourself to facilities that accept Medicaid payments. Medicaid payments are generally very low. These Medicaid facilities are often not able to afford the amount of staff and the quality of staff that you would like to see caring for you or your loved ones.

So what is my point? I don't know I am just rambling for the most part. But I do want to say that healthcare workers as a whole are not out to harm you or your family members that are in long term care facilities. Most of these healthcare workers are going to do everything in their power to provide quality care.

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Monday, August 07, 2006

Baby Boomers - A Healthcare Crisis Nears

Copyright © 2006 Heath Atchison

Baby boomers are quickly approaching retirement age, and as they do, there are a number of concerns that need to be addressed, particularly in the area of healthcare. Unfortunately, there appears to be no easy answers to the healthcare problems that baby boomers, and the population in general, will face in the very near future.

Baby Boomers are people who were born between 1946 and 1964. During this period of time the United States of America saw an explosion in birthrates that had never been seen before and nothing like it has been seen since. Today, baby boomers make up approximately 28% of the total United States of America population.

With this group of people occupying such a large segment of the population, it is predicted that there will be a major financial strain on the healthcare industry as a whole, as baby boomers reach retirement age. There are many reasons why the healthcare industry will face problems as baby boomers begin to retire and begin to need long-term care services.

Baby Boomers Are The Nurses

Go to any healthcare facility today and look around at the nurses who are working there. One thing will become abundantly clear to you; the vast majority of nurses working in healthcare are in fact baby boomers themselves. We have heard for the past few years about nursing shortages and predictions that these nursing shortages will only get worse.

There are many reasons why the United States of America currently faces nursing shortages. Traditionally, nursing has been a career dominated by women. Women have made great strides in efforts to gain equality over the past few decades; much of this progress is attributed to women who are from the baby boomer generation. With these strides in equality, women have realized that they have many more career choices other than being a nurse, a schoolteacher, or a homemaker. Today women are running the largest corporations in America, making great salaries, and receiving high levels of prestige.

A Two-Fold Problem

As baby boomers retire a two-fold problem is created. First, there will be even fewer nurses, because baby boomers make up such a large part of the current nursing workforce. The second part of the problem is that as baby boomers, 28% of our population, retire they will require more healthcare as a part of the aging process.

As you can see, there are some serious healthcare problems that need to be addressed. Leaders in the healthcare industry have been working extremely hard in trying to find a solution. Sadly their efforts are only making minimal impacts in increasing the nursing workforce.

Healthcare companies have tried everything from raising salaries to offering outrageous sign on bonuses. Money does not seem to be the key to get people interested in nursing. Survey a group of nurses and most will not complain about their salary. What they will complain about is the day-to-day workloads that they face. Nurses are overworked and carry larger and larger patient loads as a result of shortages.

Combine this with the fact that nurses, who typically get into healthcare to provide direct patient care, are being forced to do more administrative type tasks. Some of these tasks include excessive charting to meet requirements set forth by Medicare and insurance companies, and trying to get patients care certified, or paid for, by insurance companies. Most nurses did not become nurses to sit behind a computer and to talk on the phone for hours.

How This Will Affect Baby Boomers?

Advancements in medical technology and science means that people are living longer. This does not always mean that there is a high quality of life for those that are living longer though. Many of these people who would have died from a medical condition two decades ago can now live for a long time to come. These people often require a great deal of long-term care, whether it is at home or in a long-term care facility.

Those receiving long-term care at home require nurses to help them with their day-to-day tasks. The following is a quote taken directly from the Medicare website (

"Generally, Medicare doesn't pay for long-term care. Medicare pays only for medically necessary skilled nursing facility or home health care. However, you must meet certain conditions for Medicare to pay for these types of care. Most long-term care is to assist people with support services such as activities of daily living like dressing, bathing, and using the bathroom. Medicare doesn't pay for this type of care called "custodial care". Custodial care (non-skilled care) is care that helps you with activities of daily living. It may also include care that most people do for themselves, for example, diabetes monitoring."

There is also a great deal of talk about whether or not Medicare will even be around in the coming decades. Consider the fact that 28% of the population will no longer be contributing to Medicare via taxes, while at the same time that 28% will be using more of the resources.

Is It All Really That Bleak?

Yes and no. It is true that there are no easy solutions in the foreseeable future to help deal with the nursing shortage, while the need for nurses will increase dramatically. It is also true that the economics of supply and demand will create a situation where healthcare will become even more expensive, while healthcare providers continue to raise salaries in hopes of attracting nurses.

So where is the good news you ask? The good news is that nurse recruitments are showing "some" success. Young people are showing a renewed interest in nursing, due in large part to huge marketing campaigns put out by nursing schools and healthcare organizations. The flip side of this is that these young people are going for the high level nursing degrees such as Registered Nurse (R.N.) and Nurse Practitioners (N.P.), but the lower level (lower paying) jobs such as Certified Nursing Assistants (C.N.A.'s) and Certified Medical Assistants (C.M.A.'s) remain understaffed. These are the ones usually providing direct care while the RN's and Licensed Practical Nurses (L.P.N.'s) are meeting accreditation requirements by doing all of the charting and talking to insurance companies.

The other good news is that insurance companies are planning ahead and offering long-term care insurance plans that will allow you or your loved ones the ability to be able to pay nurses for long-term care services. Many baby boomers are taking their future into their own hands by taking out these long-term care insurance policies.

Finally, leaders in government and the healthcare industry are working diligently to address what is a predictable issue. Since these are predictable events, they can be planned for as much as possible.

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Thursday, August 03, 2006

Long Term Care Provider

by Jessica Farrell

A large percentage of long term care is given at home generally by non compensated labor. That means usually a child, spouse or relative is caring at home for the ill or injured person. This can be a difficult situation as it proves to be is taxing on the caregivers, and can frustration and burn out.

To prevent this uncomfortable situation, many families who can afford long term care and have insurance to cover such, often place their loved ones in long term care facilities. Depending on the mobility and extent of illness of the patient, long term facilities can mean a few hours a day in an Adult Day Care to 24 hour a day 7 day a week care in a nursing home.

There are several insurers that offer coverage for long term care such as Met Life, Prudential, and New York life, just to name a few. If your loved one had not planned ahead and purchased the necessary insurance, Medicaid (assuming they are eligible) will usually pay for most if not all of the expenses of long term care in approved facilities. Some of the long term care options are as follows:

*Adult Day Care: This service helps the caregiver by providing a nurturing environment where the loved one can be cared for during the day. This provides the much needed relief for the caregiver.

*Assisted Living: This is a facility for people who needs help with day to day living functions, but does not require 24 hour professional or skilled nursing care.

*Hospice Care: This is care for the terminally ill, usually considered with cancer patients, but it should also be considered for Alzheimer and other patients with degenerative, debilitating illnesses.

*Nursing homes: A full time facility in which the patient is cared for around the clock by licensed professionals.
The key to providing long term health care is advanced planning.

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