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A Taste of AMDA is Evolving

In the second issue of the WAVE for June this year, I wrote about how to access “AMDA on the Go” podcasts, which are offered free to post-acute and long-term care professionals.  Over the summer, AMDA has added a number of new features including expert discussion from the Colorado Geriatric Journal Club, and now, practical clinical applications from the August issue of JAMDA.  In this podcast, Dr. Philip Sloane, the new co-Editor-in-Chief, summarized take-home lessons from: Increasing the Value of ER visits, Reducing Avoidable Transfers, Quantifying the Impact of Incomplete nursing home transfer documentation, and Measuring the Value of High-Intensity Telemedicine in Senior Living communities.  I found this podcast to whet my appetite for the details of these articles, which I can now more effectively share with my facilities and home health agency.

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Is “Picture Talk” a Valuable Intervention In the Care of Persons with Dementia?

In recent years, I have used pictures I’ve taken on my smartphone or received from others, as part of how I relate to my patients.  Pictures are a powerful way to share common human experiences that even my advanced dementia patients can find interesting. Most of these pictures are of my dog or grandchildren or places in the area that have a story associated with them.  I commonly will then ask my patients about their experiences with similar circumstances.  

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Telemedicine or No Telemedicine: This is the Question

The debate and enthusiasm about telemedicine visits, as an alternative for an in person visit, are lurching in parallel tracks. Early adopters who are using it in rural areas have mainly adopted Telehealth for behavioral health and possibly dermatological consults. 

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Court of Appeals Says Epple is Still in Effect: CANHR v. Smith Decision

In late July, after some four years of legal wrangling, a California Court of Appeals decision was handed down in the CANHR v. Smith (previously CANHR v. Chapman) case, which had sued the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to challenge the constitutionality of Health & Safety Code 1418.8, also known as the Epple Law. This law, in effect for over 20 years in California, allows the interdisciplinary team (IDT) in a nursing home to make decisions—including giving informed consent for interventions that require it—on behalf of incapacitated, unrepresented residents.  

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San Diego CALTCM Leaders Partner with HSAG for Learning

Earlier this summer, health care professionals from all over San Diego County met to learn about current trends in post-acute care and hospital readmission efforts.  Hosted by Health Services Advisory Group under the guidance of Debra Nixon and her colleagues, and with local assistance from CALTCM board members Parag Agnihotri, MD, CMD and Karl Steinberg, MD, CMD, HMDC, this half-day collaborative event drew about 150 attendees.  

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Update on Disclosing Medical Errors

In a February 2017 WAVE, I asked the question whether your facility had been stress tested (see link to this article below).  At one of my facilities, I had become aware of a serious medication error and activated a process with some of my colleagues and the administration on how to best manage the consequences of this error.  This patient and family appreciated the timely disclosure and proposed care plan adjustments, as well as our commitment to better understand what happened so that we could minimize the risk of similar future errors.  To date, there hasn’t been a lawsuit or payout with this case.

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CA End of Life Option Act 2018 Data Report

As an internist who has entered my 41st year in private practice, I have followed our state's experience with this act hoping like many of my colleagues that those accessing this option would only do so after much thought, council, and access to good palliative care.  

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New Changes in the CMS Nursing Home Compare Five-Star Quality Rating System

Five-Star Quality Rating System (QRS) has been developed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to assist consumers compare nursing homes more easily based on their performance on health inspection(s), staffing and quality measures (QM) domains. Over the years, CMS has updated and enhanced the five-star QRS methodology numerous times to improve the accuracy of the rating system. The nursing facilities and medical directors need to stay up-to-date with all the changes in the 5-star QRS.  

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The Shortage Of Tuberculin Antigens; Can Anything Be Done?

For as long as most of us can remember, we have been subject to regulatory oversight regarding testing for tuberculosis in our residents. For most of us, this equates to a “mandatory” skin test upon admission (as well as mandatory tests for our employees!) to check for possible “exposure” to TB. The efficacy of these tests, or even the accuracy of chest x-rays, in diagnosis of the disease is tenuous at best, but we still must comply with the regulation.

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Should You Be Concerned About the “Integrity” of Your Facility’s POLST Forms?

In 2008, I attended the UCLA LMG (Leadership and Management in Geriatrics) course that has continued under the leadership of CALTCM.  I was paired with a nursing professor at Sacramento State who was quite helpful as a mentor for my project which was the implementation of the new POLST Form in Sonoma County.  I teamed with Susan Keller, who energetically partnered with many people and provided detailed trainings in many settings of care. Sadly, despite our efforts, I still find POLST forms initiated by frontline SNF admitting nurses that don’t have choices congruent with the ones I find on my assessments.  In addition, many of the forms fail to record basic information like care contacts, presence of AHCDs/DPOAs, and who assisted with completion of the form.  

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The Protect Sleep Initiative

CALTCM has partnered with CAHF to address common care processes that may interfere with our patient’s sleep preferences.  The focus of the CAHF Quality Subcommittee’s initiative has been the timing of medications and administration of beverages (see attachments below).  These model policies and procedures provide a flexible and safe way to modify incoming orders, including medication orders and timing, for both new admissions and also serve as a tool for adjusting these care plans for long-stay residents.  

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Membership Perks: Why being a CALTCM member is worthwhile!

CALTCM has had a busy 2019, Summer is near and the Leadership and Management in Geriatrics (LMG) course and the Fall Conference will be upon us in no time at all.  We would like to give you a quick update on our current programs and an update on two membership benefits you will not want to overlook – if you are not a member yet, take a few moments and join CALTCM today to be eligible for these opportunities.

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The Problem of the Good Samaritan

Parables were told to alert the reader to profound truths.  This parable has been time tested as witnessed by our Good Samaritan laws and by its influence on medical ethics.  This parable (Good Samaritan Parable) was told in response to the question, “and who is my neighbor”.  In this story, the neighbor is never clearly defined, but only as someone who was robbed, beaten, and left half-dead.  His plight was deemed less important than the immediate agenda and safety of the first 2 highly respected persons who saw him from afar and passed on.  Shockingly, a despised foreigner saw the need, provided emergent care, and then paid for acute and post-hospital care.  

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Taste of AMDA Annual Meeting

As an in-the-trenches clinician, I have come away from each CALTCM and AMDA annual meeting with my “batteries” recharged and with new ideas for improving patient and facility care. Going to these meetings has introduced me to many thought leaders in our setting who gladly rub shoulders with attendees and make time for curbside consults.  These are truly “family” events.

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Are Weighted Blankets Worth Trying in Your Facility?

Recently, the American Geriatrics Society’s MyAGSOnline member forum posted a question about the use of weighted blankets for a dementia unit with patients who had poor judgment, impulsiveness, poor safety recall, and frequent falls.  Dr. Maureen Nash, Board Certified in Internal Medicine & Psychiatry (Portland, Oregon) wrote they can have a positive impact in some older patients offering comfort as long as they are not too heavy. They are not considered a restraint by CMS unless they are inappropriately heavy.  They provide gentle tactile stimulation to people who usually are not touched except in a clinical situation. She gave several references:

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Congratulations to Dr. Rebecca Ferrini: 2019 CALTCM Leadership Award

It is a pleasure to boast about the recipient of the 2019 CALTCM Leadership Award, Rebecca Ferrini, MD, MPH, CMD.  CALTCM received three separate submissions nominating Rebecca for this award – a true testament to the high regard the PALTC community holds for Rebecca.  She is full of energy and has an inspiring dedication and passion for improving the quality of care in post-acute and long-term care. She actively contributes to the CALTCM Education Committee, dedicating her time and energy to the planning of educational events, peer reviews, and selflessly assisting presenters to improve their presentations. She has five children, plays competitive soccer, her facility is 5 stars (CMS 20/20), and has been named a top nursing home in the country for seven years by US News and World Report.  

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PDPM and Geriatrics

“I know geriatrics, because I’ve taken care of a lot of old people.” As a geriatrician, I’ve heard this refrain my whole career from other physicians who are trying to rationalize the care they deliver to older adults.  The scope of this refrain is about to expand, and we shouldn’t be surprised to find nursing home administrators opining on clinical care delivery approaches.

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Medical Director Billing

In 2001 I co-founded Senior Care of Colorado.  We were a small group of six geriatricians and a couple of physician assistants working out of two clinics who provided primary care geriatrics in local nursing homes. We immediately had offers from several local nursing homes to take positions as medical directors.  Naively, we thought that these offers reflected a desire for these facilities to gain expertise in geriatrics. Realistically, they probably thought that hiring us would bring them more patients. Within a year we were under investigation from the OIG. They interviewed several nursing home administrators.

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Diabetes Update from CALTCM 2019 Summit

For many reasons, our education committee chose to focus this year on reducing the risk of hypoglycemia in persons with diabetes.  CMS has data from April 2016-March 2017 showing this is a major reason for a higher first 30 day all-cause SNF Readmissions rate. As of Jan 1, 2019, the CMS “SNF Readmission Measure” (SNF-RM) adjusts payments to facilities based on this measure. From multiple randomized controlled studies, we know that serious hypoglycemia increases mortality. For this reason, in high risk patients, AGS and ADA have recommended higher A1C targets in those with higher hypoglycemic risk.  

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Is your Facility Prepared for Advance Directives for Stopping Eating and Drinking?

At the March 2019 annual AMDA meeting, Dr. Karl Steinberg (our incoming AMDA VP) and I were part of a panel debating whether the United States should adopt the Dutch policy of legalizing Advance Directives for Euthanasia.  In 2014, 4.4% of deaths in the Netherlands were by euthanasia and 20% were by palliative sedation. Dr. Cees Hertogh, a Dutch physician and bioethicist, gave a wonderful presentation on the history of euthanasia in the Netherlands and the criteria for euthanasia, which have been modified to include euthanasia by advance directive (AD) for persons with dementia.  In contrast, the 20-year experience of Oregon with the Death with Dignity Act (reported in the September 2017 Annals of Internal Medicine) had 0.2% of their deaths via medical aid in dying. California has had a similar frequency who died by lethal ingestion via the End of Life Option Act.

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