Many Nursing Homes Fall Short at Palliative Care

How good are American nursing homes at palliative care? In a new study in the Journal of Palliative Medicine, a team led by Susan Miller of the Brown University School of Public Health attempted to better understand how U.S. nursing homes are doing at end-of-life care by sending out a survey to the directors of nursing (DON) at a random sample of 1,981 of them. The idea was to see how well these DONs responded to questions about both their personal knowledge of palliative-care practices and about how their facilities handled these issues, and to then draw correlations between these scores and the end-of-life outcomes of 58,876 residents of these facilities — whether they ended up dying in a hospital, whether they endured potentially uncomfortable last-minute medical-interventions, and so on. The knowledge questions “reflected relatively elementary knowledge,” the authors write, and were scored only on a scale of 0 to 3 (there was a larger scale for the practice questions). Somewhat alarmingly, 21 percent of the DONs surveyed “correctly responded to none or only one of the knowledge items, and 43 percent to all items.” More than half of the DONs, in other words, didn’t appear to know the basics of how palliative care works.

Source/more: New York Magazine

David Wingate is an elder law attorney in Frederick and Montgomery Counties, Maryland. The law practice includes Wills, Power of Attorneys, Trusts, Asset Protection and Medicaid (Medical Assistance.)

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