July 2005

Developments on End-of-Life Issues

NEWS FROM ATTORNEYS GENERAL OFFICES

  1. Under the leadership of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Illinois has amended its Illinois Nursing Home Care Act and its Code of Corrections by passing the Vulnerable Adults Protection Act. The act creates a process for the identification and management of convicted felons residing in long-term care facilities and provides for notification to other residents of the facilities. See http://www.ag.state.il.us/pressroom/ and then click on “July.”

  2. The office of Maryland Attorney General Joseph Curran has developed a Patient’s Plan of Care Form (PPOC), intended to help seriously ill patients receive the kind of health care they wish to have. The PPOC is a brief form that travels with patients and documents patients’ decisions about the use of life-sustaining medical technologies. More information about the PPOC may be found at http://www.oag.state.md.us/Healthpol/PPOC.htm.

  3. Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson has released his 2005 End-of-Life Health Report. The report is the result of one year of intensive research and includes recommendations to improve end-of-life health care in Oklahoma. The task force focused on five specific areas; advance directives, nursing facilities, hospitals, hospice care, and children. The report is published on the Oklahoma Attorney General’s website.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS OF INTEREST

  1. Dr. David Casarett, Head of the Palliative Care Clinic at the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and his colleagues have authored a study titled “Improving the Use of Hospice Services in Nursing Homes; A Randomized Controlled Trial.” The study discovered that simple communication intervention can increase rates of hospice referrals and families’ ratings of end-of-life care and may also decrease utilization of acute care resources. It was published in the July 13, 2005, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association at pp. 211-217. The study is available at http://jama.ama-assn.org/context/vol. 294/issue2/index.dtl.

  2. John Tierney has published an op-ed piece in the July 19, 2005, issue of the New York Times regarding the case of Florida resident Richard Paey, currently incarcerated after being found guilty of forging prescriptions. Mr. Paey’s case has been championed by the Pain Relief Network. More information can be found on the organization’s website at http://www.painreliefnetwork.org/.

  3. In another op-ed piece authored by John Tierney in the New York Times on July 23, 2005, Tierney discussed the DEA’s concern with the potential of drug abuse by patients for whom doctors have prescribed OxyContin and other opioids and the focus on doctors who prescribe such medications. The editorial references the January 19, 2005, letter from thirty Attorneys General to DEA, available on this website.

  4. Ronald T. Libby, professor of political science and public administration at the University of North Florida, wrote an article titled, “Treating Doctors as Drug Dealers.” It is available at the Cato Institute’s publication website.

  5. The Lincoln Tribune’s website on July 18, 2005, featured an article about the State Employee’s Credit Union’s efforts to publicize to North Carolina employees the availability of North Carolina’s Advance Health Care Directives Registry. Directives may be registered on the North Carolina Secretary of State’s website and are then available to family members and doctors using a file number and password. The registry was set up by N.C. Gen. Stat. 130A-465 and was activated in May 2002. According to officials in North Carolina, more than 4,300 citizens have registered advance care directives since the registry was opened.

  6. The Department of Pain Medicine and Palliative Care at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City has launched a new website. The website features helpful articles and information for consumers and medical professionals, including information about current trials.

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