Role of Nurse Liaison in Long Term Acute Care Facilities

Nurse liaisons within Long Term Acute Care Facilities (LTAC) act as advocates on behalf of patients. They are also considered to be troubleshooter ensuring smooth communication between health care providers, patients and their families. A Long Term Acute Care Facility is a freestanding setting for patients with chronic conditions needing specialized intensive care. Average length of stay is 25 to 30 days.

Specific roles and responsibilities include reviewing patient medical records to determine eligibility for admission, assisting patients and families through the admission process, serving as a conduit of information between case managers, physicians and others of the health care team, overseeing insurance certification, and provision of marketing services on behalf of the facility.

In the LTAC setting, nurse liaisons are expected to review and evaluate medical records to determine whether patients meet the criteria for admission as per Medicare guidelines, when appropriate. They are also responsible for ensuring that the patient is match with the right physician for their case. The assigned physician must have privileges at the facility. It is important to keep the physician privilege list updated on a regular basis.

Nurse Liaison's assist patients and families through the admission process by explaining the care and range of services available, as well as anticipated length of stay. You will also address any questions and concerns of the patient and/or family members.

Nurse liaisons need to maintain consistent communication between internal and external members of the health care team.Internal communication could be with the assigned case manager or physician while external communication could involve staff from the referring hospital.

Oftentimes, nurse liaisons also complete the certification process to ensure that patients have required insurance coverage. This will include making calls to the insurance company prior to admission and verifying coverage. IF the patient has coverage, you will then send all clinical information to the insurance company and receive a response within 24 to 48 hours. This process ensures that the facility is paid for its services.

Should any difficulties arise after a patient has been admitted, the nurse liaison will usually be asked to step in and mediate the conflict. This will usually include opening the lines of communication so that all parties are able to reach agreement. For example, there may be some discrepancy among family members with regard to DNR orders so that healthcare providers are uncertain what action should be taken. The nurse liaison will discuss the issue with family members, clearly articulating all the options. Once agreement is reached among family, the nurse liaison will then communicate that decision to the health care team. Issues should be resolved as quickly as possible in order for patients, family members and health care providers to reestablish rapport.

Marketing is a common responsibility of nurse liaisons. Marketing involves contacting health care providers outside the LTAC who may benefit from the facility's services. Contacts can include physicians, nurses, case managers, and social workers. To be effective you must become strongly knowledgeable with regard to facility services, such as wound care, use of ventilators, I.V. antibiotics, physical therapy, etc. In most cases this information is provided via an in-service seminar to providers and staff.

While the responsibility can be overwhelming at times, most nurse liaisons derive much professional satisfaction and reward from solving problems and assisting with the recover process.

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