Monday, May 11, 2015

What are Our Rights in Nursing Homes?

Are you familiar with resident rights in nursing homes, adult family homes, and assisted living facilities?  There is extensive Washington state law addressing rights.
Here are a few for you (or via your power of attorney, or guardian).  Unfortunately the law in some states is not as robust in terms of protecting resident rights.
  • Safe, clean, comfortable and home like environment
  • Notice of rights, rules, and policies
  • Fees & notice disclosure
  • Approving your plan of care
  • Privacy and confidentiality
  • Rights pertaining to transfer/discharge
  • Grievances are addressed
  • Control over funds/financial affairs
  • Protection from chemical/physical restraints
  • Personal property protection
  • Privacy for mail (arrives unopened) and phone calls
  • Privacy for visits
  • You do not have to sign waivers that release the facility of liability for losses of personal property or injury
Although most people would like their final days at home, many die in hospitals or nursing homes.  Society needs to be responsible so that we may have protections for personal dignity and also have strong advocates for us.  We actually gain many rights when in long term care, but often aren't informed.

Friday, May 1, 2015

How Dead Do You Have to Be?

As technology advances, we are faced with multiple ethical challenges that were unthinkable in the past.  In 1962 a new era of lifesaving began.  The first outpatient kidney dialysis clinic was started by Dr. Belding Scribner in Seattle.  Suddenly there was a lot of demand for treatment but very limited facilities.  Ethics Committees were formed to struggle with allocation of scarce resources - labeled "God Squads" by residents.

Dialysis wasn't an ideal long-term solution.  Subsequently, organ transplantation became available - but again there is a shortage of kidney, hearts, lungs, livers, etc.  Many folks die while on the waiting list.  Living donors are sometimes available but the number of organs for transplant still falls far short.

A recent article about brain death and imminent death was published, where a patient with ALS wanted to donate organs when he was at the point of imminent death - not waiting until brain death when organs are less viable.  It's an interesting, difficult, and sad dilemma to know the right answer.  Is it "do no harm"?  Or respect a patient's autonomy when dying?  Or protecting a hospital's statistics?  Hopefully, there will be a way to address the needs - and to focus on saving lives.

The funeral as we know it is becoming a relic — just in time for a death boom

By   Karen Heller April 15 Ed note: Funerals are changing in ways that will bring culture shock and a shake of the head of s...