Why a Life Care Plan Is Important After a Spinal Cord Injury
A life care plan is a document created by a life care planner. Its purpose is to identify the future medical and supportive care needs of a particular person. Life care plans are needed for individuals with a chronic illness or disabling injury, such as spinal cord injury. They are used in consultations with patients, their families, and rehabilitation or medical professionals for coordinating medical care and support. Life care plans are also used to project the costs of long-term care for a seriously injured person.
How Does a Life Care Plan Help Someone Who Has Suffered Spinal Cord Injury?
Life care planning is done by a professional life care planner, who may be a nurse, case manager, occupational or physical therapist, or rehabilitation counselor, trained and board-certified in life care planning. It is the process of assessing an injured person’s needs, in the present and the future. The needs of an individual with spinal cord injury can be substantial. They are likely to include:
- Specialist medical treatment
- Medical devices
- Modifications to the home
- Modifications to vehicles
A life care plan is a comprehensive, head-to-toe evaluation. In a personal injury claim, whether it goes to trial, this document can help a person with spinal cord injury obtain sufficient compensation for the necessary care and equipment.
What Are the Goals of a Life Care Plan?
A life care plan is designed to answer questions. Goals of this process include:
- Helping the injured person reach the highest level of function possible under the circumstances and maintain it
- Helping reduce or eliminate physical and mental pain and suffering
- Helping prevent complications to which the injured person is predisposed
- Helping the injured individual afford the best quality of life possible in his or her condition
What Are the Requirements for a Life Care Plan?
The life care planning process and resulting documents were originally developed as a case management tool to facilitate effective communication among injured individuals, their families, physicians, therapists, rehabilitation professionals, and case managers. These documents must be organized, comprehensive, and easy to understand by lay persons (such as members of a jury) and medical professionals alike. Life care plans should be useful in both litigation and non-litigation settings by anyone who needs to know the costs of present and future care for an injured person.
Do Doctors Serve As Life Care Planners?
Recently, physiatrists have joined the ranks of life care planners. Physiatrists are medical doctors who have completed training in the field of physical medicine and rehabilitation. Like other physicians, they diagnose illnesses, prescribe medications, and devise treatment plans. These doctors are uniquely qualified to act as life care planners because of their unique training and experience in providing care for patients with spinal cord injury who are facing catastrophic functional challenges. A physiatrist may be the best qualified medical professional to educate others about the long-term consequences of spinal cord injury and the associated costs.
Can a Life Care Planner Testify in a Spinal Cord Injury Case?
In a lawsuit to recover compensation for spinal cord injury, a physiatrist life care planner may be called upon to serve as an expert witness who evaluates the injured person’s life care plan for medical necessity and accuracy. This type of specialist can also give testimony regarding the medical basis for determination of life expectancy. In many cases, spinal cord injury may or may not affect life expectancy.
If you have suffered spinal cord injury through someone else’s negligence, call DiBella Law Offices, P.C. at (617) 553-1932 to schedule a free consultation with a Boston personal injury attorney. We have the knowledge, skills, and resources to effectively pursue your claim.