Advance directives decrease family confusion on health care decisions

According to a recent study conducted by researchers from Harvard University and Dartmouth Medical School, one-fifth of Medicare nursing home patients suffering from advanced Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia were placed in hospitals and nursing homes during the last few months of their lives for questionable reasons.

Interestingly, the study found that questionable transfers were most common among patients who were black or Hispanic, as well as patients who did not have an advance directive. In light of this, there is all the more reason to make an advance health care directive part of your estate plan.

In making their findings, researches looked at Medicare records from 2000 through 2007 and identified transitions of care labeled "burdensome." These included moving patients in the last several days of their life, moving them on multiple occasions during their final months, or moving them to a nursing home after hospitalization.

Out of the nearly 475,000 patients studied in the research, 19 percent of them were transferred for questionable reasons. Patients who had been dubiously transferred were more likely to have a feeding tube inserted, to end up in intensive care during the last month of their life, and to have a severe bedsore and to be admitted to hospice within three days of death.

According to the researchers, one factor in the dubious placements may have been money. Because Medicare pays nearly three times the typical daily rate following a hospitalization, there is plenty of room for questionable motives in making such transfers. Some have noted that the increased likelihood of questionable transfers may also be a result of poor planning.

Experts have suggested that avoiding these kinds of transfers may be prevented by getting the patients involved in planning their care while they are still able to do so; making sure nursing home staff and attending physicians understand the family's goals for care of the patient; considering hospice care earlier in the process; and seeking advice from experts.

An advance health care directive would be a great way of planning such matters early on. It may be hard getting the conversation on such matters started, but it is well worth it.

Source: Associated Press, "Dementia patients suffer dubious hospitalizations," Marilynn Marchione, Sep 30, 2011.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

Mr. Teiger, Thank you very much for your time and results. I will definitely recommend you & your firm to anyone who wants to be treated professionally courteously and needs results.Hope all is well.Again...thank you. Regards, Paul L.

msg iconEmail Us For a Response

When you have legal questions or concerns, contact our team at Teiger Law Center, P.C., by calling 678-374-7645, 800-780-2275 or reach us via email by completing our online contact form. From our Cumming and Alpharetta law offices, we represent clients in the Atlanta metro and throughout north Georgia.

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

Cumming Office
514 West Maple Street
Suite 101
Cumming, GA 30040

Toll Free: 866-726-2153
Phone: 678-374-7645
Fax: 770-406-8858
Cumming Law Office Map

Alpharetta Office
12600 Deerfield Parkway, Suite 100
Alpharetta, GA 30004

Toll Free: 800-780-2275
Phone: 678-374-7645
Fax: 770-406-8858
Map & Directions