Medical records and medical chart review are very important when it comes to life care planning because any recommendation made by the life care planner must be based on the patient’s medical records. Apart from studying the medical documentation, a life care planner has to interact with the medical treatment team and consider the recommendations and opinions of consulting team members such as therapists and physicians. For a patient with a disability or injury, creating a life care plan is quite challenging and the life care planner must carefully weigh the actual long-term medical needs and interests of the patient, nursing services, and supplies required.
Life care plans are typically prepared by professionals that may include physicians, nurses, rehabilitation counselors, physical and occupational therapists, and psychologists. These plans find use in civil litigation, workers’ compensation claims, personal injury claims, Medicare set-asides, elder care and so on. Life care planning involves reviewing the ill/injured medical records to understand the medical aspects of the case. The services of a medical review company are considered very useful in this regard.
As a comprehensive document highlighting the patient’s present as well as anticipated future healthcare requirements and costs, a life care plan serves as valuable evidence in personal injury cases to establish negligence or strict liability on the part of the person who caused the debilitating injury. Shorter, more focused life care plans may also be prepared that are useful to assess damages or project costs when preparing for a fair settlement. Other than its use in the legal arena, a life care plan is also used as a preventative plan for managing an individual’s disability.
A catastrophic injury or illness such as one of the following necessitates the preparation of an effective life care plan.
- Spinal Cord Injury
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Injuries following surgery
- Birth Injuries
- Orthopedic Injuries
- Psychiatric issues
- Transplants-related injuries
Typically, a life care plan would consider expenses related to the following among others.
- Estimated routine medical care
- Surgeries that may be required
- Psychological care
- Occupational/vocational therapy
- Home health care
- Long-term/short-term care
- Diagnostic tests and evaluations
- Mobility equipment such as wheelchairs, and supplies required
- Any special assistance, accommodations or equipment that may be needed
The plan typically consists of a narrative report and a report in table format comprising the above cost projections.
What is the purpose of a life care plan? It shows how an individual’s long-term medical requirements as well as his/her physical, financial, and psychological needs will be met. The plan will aim to maximize the quality of life for the patient’s remaining years of life, prevent any potential complications, and provide projections that are appropriate to particular needs. Here are some important things to understand.
- When preparing the life care plan for an individual, life care planners first review all records with specific focus on the medical records of the injured or disabled person.
- They perform a patient evaluation, interview the healthcare providers, review interrogatories and depositions of the patient and the medical providers, review expert reports, and also survey vendors.
- It is important that the plan is prepared by a life care planning expert witness such as a physician or a certified nurse life care planner (CNLCP). The long-term experience of these medical professionals enables them to properly review the records and make appropriate recommendations. As care providers, they will always have in mind the patient’s best interests.
- They make sure to communicate with all treating physicians and therapists so that they have a clear understanding of the injury, treatments provided, treatment objectives, the patient’s response to the treatment, future evaluations and possible complications.
- They review the injured person so that they get all the facts right and also understand the pain and suffering of the injured party.
- Based on the above, they make suitable recommendations for the individual’s anticipated needs such as current and future levels of care, supplies and equipment, family support, safety concerns, potential complications that could come with aging and so on.
Experienced life care planners know that the same plan will not work for all because each injury or illness is unique and therefore individual needs are also unique. It therefore goes without saying that the life care planner must have expertise in various medical conditions, rehabilitation requirements, and the ability to evaluate the injured or sick person accurately. Only then can an optimal life care plan be developed for the patient, which would ensure that all of his/her medical needs will be met consistently irrespective of whether the patient suffers from a physical or a mental disability, injury, or illness.