Case Management

Sneak Peek: Avoid sticky legal issues during discharge

Case Management Weekly, May 9, 2012

Making sure patients are prepared for discharge can be a tricky process. When certain laws are considered, getting patients to their next destination becomes even more complex.

Whether it’s guardianship disputes or patients ignoring medical advice, case managers often face legal issues. But you can protect both the patient and your organization by using the following strategies to manage some of the most common legal complications.

Understand legal documents. One of the most important roles of the social worker and case manager is to identify discharge barriers early. For example, a patient might be admitted for care but have no capacity to make decisions or to care for him or herself in the community. In such a case, the case manager and/or social worker should determine whether there are any legal documents identifying a person with authority to make decisions for the patient, says Alextra Trinkoff, senior associate general counsel at the North Shore–Long Island Jewish Health System, based in Great Neck, N.Y.

“The legal relationship could be incorrectly interpreted if this step isn’t taken,” says Trinkoff.

This article is adapted from an article which originally appeared in the May Case Management Monthly published by HCPro, Inc.

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