What is Hospice?
How does hospice care work?
How is hospice care paid for?
What about medical equipment and medications?
Who makes up the hospice team?
The interdisciplinary team usually consists of:
- The patient’s personal physician
- Hospice physician (or medical director)
- Home Health Aides
- Social Workers
- Spiritual Care Providers or Other Counselors
- Bereavement Professionals
- Speech, Physical, and/or other occupational therapists
Does Hospice Care help terminally ill individuals by speeding up the dying process?
No, hospice does not help terminally ill individuals speed up the dying process. In fact, some studies even suggest that hospice care may even extend life. A 2007 report by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) found that patients with certain terminal diseases who chose hospice lived an average of 29 days longer than similar patients who did not receive hospice. Some factors that contribute to this longer survival rate, according to the NHPCO Researchers, are the following:
- Patients are more likely to receive additional monitoring and treatments only available through hospice.
- The patient’s desire to live is enhanced due to the constant attention given by hospice providers to their emotional well-being and physical health (like managing and treating pain).
- Over-treatment is more likely avoided, which poses a huge risk in an individual’s mortality.
The primary goal of hospice is maintaining the dignity and quality of life of the patient. This means that hospice providers have to ensure that every day is a good day for the patient.
Do hospice providers usually suggest discontinuing some medication that the patient has been using long before hospice? Will this discontinuation of the medications speed up the dying process?
Morphine is one pain medication hospice providers often use, isn’t morphine speed up the dying process?
Some say that a hospice-eligible patient cannot stay on hospice for more than six months. Is this true?
My mom was hospitalized and before discharge, the hospitalist recommended to consider hospice for my mom. After discharge, I asked around, did my research, and called my mom’s PCP for an MD order for hospice evaluation. The PCP told me he won’t order any hospice evaluation if it is not his preferred hospice company. Is this allowed?
No. This kind of behavior is unacceptable. First, there is what we call “Patient’s Rights”. If the PCP doesn’t want to order a Hospice Evaluation order for your mom unless it is the MD’s preferred hospice agency, the MD violated Title 42 CFR Part 418.52, and the MDs behavior is an action reportable to Medicare and a Condition of Participation violation for the hospice agency the MD prefers.
One of the fundamental rights of a Patient is the right to choose which hospice agency he/she will enroll with no matter what the MD tells you. What the MD did (assuming this case scenario is accurate) could be called blackmail, coercion, intimidation etc. That’s why one good indicator in choosing a good hospice agency is to listen between the words spoken. If there is a “push” and/or “condition” before anything else??? Like in your case, run away from these people. Always remember, an MD, case manager, discharge managers, etc., can only recommend. The general rule is these people is to at least give you 3 choices (options).
To be fair on the other end of the spectrum, there are some MDs that “recommends” a hospice agency because of the trust and confidence that the agency earned while serving the MD’s patient in the past. Because of the MD’s past experiences, he would go for people he/she knows that delivers the best result for his/her patient. This is called professional “trust and confidence”.
For St. Liz Hospice, the professional relationship that we’ve developed over years of hard work is the principle that would really enhance patient care. In fact, this scenario is the best because if we fail to meet the MD’s standards of care, then there might not be a “next referral” for us.
If you’re in a situation like this, do give us a call and we’ll be glad to guide and help you through the complexities of hospice admission criteria, insurance, placements, etc.