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Nursing Home Care: Part I. Principles and Pitfalls of Practice - Article

ABSTRACT: Approximately 1.5 million Americans reside in nursing homes. A family physician often leads the interdisciplinary team that provides for the medical, functional, emotional, nutritional, social, and environmental needs of these patients. The treatment of nursing home residents is a dynamic process of ongoing assessment, transitions, and shifting care plans. The clinical assessment of nursing home residents focuses on cognition, mood, disability, skin integrity, and medication management. Advance care planning includes the development of realistic goals of care with the patient and family that go beyond living wills and do-not-resuscitate orders. The nursing home medical record and Minimum Data Set document the interdisciplinary findings and care plan. Transitions between different health care environments are facilitated by communication among health care professionals and detailed transfer documentation. Palliative care encompasses continuing reassessment of the goals of care; general supportive care (e.g., family, cultural, spiritual); and legal planning. Identifying and reporting resident abuse and neglect, and infection control practices are also essential in nursing home care.

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