Advance Directives: Facility Compliance and Personal Action

March 31, 2010

April 16, 2010 is National Healthcare Decisions Day 2010

Today marks the fifth anniversary of the death of Terri Schiavo, whose case gripped the nation and provided a vivid illustration of the importance of discussing and documenting advance healthcare decisions—by people of all ages, regardless of their current health status.

Beyond the personal reasons for addressing advance directives, inquiring about and providing information about advance directives is required by law for most healthcare institutions. Specifically, the CMS Conditions of Participation require hospitals, critical access hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, nursing facilities, home health agencies, providers of home healthcare (and for Medicaid purposes, providers of personal care services), hospices, ambulatory surgery centers, and dialysis facilities to inquire about and provide information to patients regarding advance directives.

Additionally, the Conditions of Participation expressly require all of the above healthcare providers, except ASCs and dialysis providers, to provide public education about advance directives. Furthermore, both the Joint Commission and AAAHC have accreditation standards requiring facilities to honor advance directives.

National Healthcare Decisions Day, April 16, is a great opportunity to ensure that healthcare facilities have in place the tools and staff education necessary to meet the requirements of the law. It’s also an ideal time to provide public education on advance directives. This event also serves as a good opportunity for all individuals to discuss and document their healthcare wishes or revisit previously stated wishes—as well as remind others to do the same.

For general information on advance directives, including free forms for every state, visit the National Healthcare Decisions Day website. Note: this nationwide advance directives educational event was founded and is chaired by McGuireWoods partner Nathan Kottkamp.

For legal assistance with advance directives issues, including development of policies and staff education, or any other questions about CMS’s requirements with respect to advance directives, please contact Nathan Kottkamp.