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November 1, 2008

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  • Hurricane Ike slams Texas coast and tests hospice emergency plans

    Winds that exceeded 80 miles per hour, storm surges that covered major streets, and power outages that lasted more than a week for many people were just a few of the effects of Hurricane Ike. The good news for Texas hospice and home health organizations is that their emergency plans worked well.
  • Lessons learned improve preparedness

    There is nothing like a real emergency to test and evaluate your hospice emergency preparedness plan. Although hospices and home care agency managers interviewed by Hospice Management Advisor came through hurricanes Gustav and Ike in remarkably good shape, they all identified additions that will enhance their plans.
  • Electronic records great except during outages

    Laptops and other point of care documentation systems have greatly increased the efficiency of hospice clinicians. They no longer have to travel to a central office to pick up schedules, patient information, or updates from the agency, and they can upload their day's work from their homes. The only warning related to electronic records and laptops from hospices affected by Hurricane Ike is "don't get rid of your paper forms."
  • Long lines at gas pumps not limited to coastal areas

    Hospice staff members in areas directly affected by hurricanes Gustav and Ike knew to prepare for gasoline shortages or inability to access gasoline due to power outages. However, when you are 800 miles away from the hurricane's landfall, your emergency plans don't typically plan for gasoline shortages.
  • End-of-life discussions with physicians have benefits

    According to a recent study, terminally ill patients who had end-of-life discussions with physicians had earlier hospice enrollment (65.6% vs. 44.5%), compared to patients who did not have these discussions. Also, longer hospice stays were associated with better patient quality of life, while more aggressive medical care was associated with worse patient quality of life.
  • Agencies struggle with plan of care

    Fifteen percent of Medicare home health agencies were cited for the same certification deficiency on three consecutive surveys, according to a report issued by the Office of the Inspector General in the Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Face-to-face meetings improve communications

    Case conferences can be an excellent way to improve communications between staff members and ensure that the plan of care is up to date. The challenge presented by case conferences for hospice and home health agencies is the staff's perception that time spent in meetings is not time well spent for patient care.
  • Improve relationship with physician office staff

    All you need is a signature. The challenge is tracking down the physician, getting him or her to review your plan of care, and getting the document back into your records within the time frame allowed by Medicare.
  • Hospice, home health drive more than UPS

    Nurses, therapists, home care aides, and others who serve elderly and disabled patients in their own homes drive nearly 5 billion miles each year.
  • The Joint Commission places standards online

    The Joint Commission's revised standards, rationales and elements of performance for 2009 for home care, which includes hospice, now are available online.
  • Criminal charges unlikely for prescribing opioids

    Criminal or administrative charges and sanctions for prescribing opioid analgesics are rare, according to a recent study.
  • NHPCO awards grants to hospice providers

    The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) in Alexandria, VA, has received funding from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to launch a program improving access to quality hospice and palliative care to veterans, with a specific focus on reaching homeless veterans and those living in rural areas.
  • Palliative care access varies widely

    Although more than half of the 50-bed or larger hospitals in the United States offer palliative care services to ease pain and suffering for seriously ill patients and their families, the availability of these services varies widely across geographic regions, according to a recent study.
  • Survey shows support for assisted suicide

    According to a national survey of adults by ELDR magazine and on the issue of physician-assisted suicide, more than 80% of those responding said they believe that the choice to end one's life is a "personal decision."