Life Care Plans

Financial ReportBirth injuries frequently result in permanent physical and mental disabilities and other medical conditions. When a child is born with a serious condition such as cerebral palsy, it often means that they will be dependent on medical assistance, therapy and other supportive services for the remainder of the life. Of course each child's individual disability is very different and the type and severity of their disorder will dictate the extent of long term care they will require. A life care plan can provide a blueprint for all treatment and services a child will need over the course of their lifetime and the economic cost.

What is a Life Care Plan?

A life care plan is a comprehensive report that lays out in painstaking detail the future care the victim will need and how much it will cost. this report is drafted by an expert who will testify at trial. it is crucial that the expert has the requisite experience and background to review the medical records and reports and to pull out the victim's future care needs. The costs may include special equipment or work on the home to accommodate the victim, drugs and supplies, medical and home health care, educational and/or vocational training, and adaptive equipment.

A life care plan is a detailed report prepared by a group of experts that: (a) examines and assesses the individual child's medical condition; (b) provides a detailed listing of all the various medical treatments and support services that is going to need for the rest of their life; and (c) calculates the anticipated total cost of providing these services and treatments. [Future lost wages for the child are also a big item but not necessarily brought in through the life care plan.]

So a life care plan effectively itemizes everything a child with a disability will need and exactly how much that will eventually cost. Life care plans are usually prepared by in medical malpractice litigation. The information in the life care plan is drawn from various medical experts and economists based on a review of the child's case. The medical experts are tasked with formulating the outline of future medical care and services that will be required based on the child's condition. This usually covers everything from direct treatments (e.g., medication, therapy, surgery, etc.); educational assistance; and things like wheel chairs or assistive technology. An economic expert then develops an itemized cost estimate for every required medication and treatment. Life care plans are most often utilized in birth injury malpractice cases to establish what the plaintiff's damages should be based on the total economic cost of the injury and its impact on the family.

Components of a Life Care Plan

There is no standard format for a life care plan because they tend to be highly customized. There are a number of primary components, however, that will usually appear in any life care plan.

  • Introduction: any decent life care plan will start with an introductory section. The intro or summary will briefly describe the child, the nature of their injuries and outline the contents found in the life care plan.
  • Medical History: a detailed medical history section should be part of any life care plan. The medical history section should contain a comprehensive description of the child's medical condition and disability. This should naturally start with a description of the injury during childbirth that caused the disability. This content of this section is pulled from a review of the child's medical records and it is usually the longest part of any life care plan. The section on medical history is significant because it establishes a basis for the estimate of what medical treatment and support services the child will need and how much that will cost. The unique characteristics and history of the child's birth injury and resulting disability will often dictate what specific treatments and services he or she will need.
  • Future Care: following the medical history section many life care plans will include a separate section which lists all treats, services and other things that the child will need over the course of their lifetime.
  • Summary of Costs: the summary of costs section is typically provides brief outline of the required treatment and services and how much each category will cost. In addition to the overall life cost estimate of the required care and services, an itemized statement of costs by category or subcategory (e.g., medications, testing, therapy, counseling, etc.) is often provided. Some life care plans often another level of cost detail by itemizing costs for each item within a category (e.g. for "medications" a list of each individual drug and its cost).
  • Explanation of Costs: this section of the report usually provides support for each cost item in the pan. So for each medication, surgery or treatment the report gives a brief explanation of why the child will need the treatment or service and how the costs was estimated.
  • References: this is like an index or table of supporting authorities. It lists all external publications or sources that were relied on in estimating costs or anything else in the life care plan. Cites to published pricing and fees for medications or diagnostic tests are common examples. A detailed index of all the applicable medical records and other documents that were used in preparing the life care plan is also included.