10 Parameters to Consider when Assessing the Value of a Life Care Plan

Recent Case Example:

James was born with hydrocephalus and developed mild mental retardation and severe behavioral and cognitive deficits. Unfortunately, his parents perished in a plane crash when he was 9. He was subsequently raised by relatives and was doing reasonably well socially, academically and medically when his life care plan was developed. The issue at hand was what care needs he would require since his parents were deceased and unable to care for him. He was essentially an independent 16-year-old, although he required minimal supervision which was provided by his relatives. The life care planner did not interview James, then 16, nor any of his caretakers. The entire plan was developed based upon a record review. The sole recommendation was for permanent, lifetime residential care at a cost of $8,000 a month. It was worth noting that there were four facilities in his city of residence. Three cost between $900 and $1300 monthly, while the fourth inexplicably cost $8,000. The plan did not mention any limits or cautions, despite the obvious deficits described above. The opposing life care planner from IAS addressed all of these issues. The jury award was in keeping with the IAS specialist’s more objective, thorough life care plan estimates.

Life Care Plans are a very effective method of ascertaining what the future medical care needs are for a particular patient and what the projected costs will be for the expected lifespan of that patient.

When attempting to assess the value of a plan, some things to consider are:

Did the Life Care Planner:

1.    Complete formal training in life care planning in a recognized training program?

2.    Interview the patient? If not, did they state the reasons for this limitation and include the concomitant limits in their life care plan?

3.    Interview significant treating or examining providers in order to obtain more accurate future care needs or did they solely base costs on their own care needs recommendations?

4.    Question providers who render future care needs that appear outside the standard of care in their specialty?

5.    Obtain care costs for each item and service from at least two separate providers, facilities or companies and average these costs?

6.    Obtain future care costs in the city or county where the patient resides?

7.    Follow the ethical guidelines of both their license to practice as well as CHCC guidelines?

8.    Have a state license to provide services in some licensable area?

9.    Restrict their recommendations to care for the specific injury or illness caused by the incident under consideration?

10.  Receive adequate training and experience sufficient to understand published scientific literature relevant to their life care planning activities?