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Managing the Myths

Addressing hospice care myths

Managing the Myths

mythsThere are several misconceptions about hospice care in the medical community. Here are factual responses to six of the most common myths.

As a medical professional, you dedicate your life to curing and healing. Yet there are times when you realize that it's no longer beneficial to your patient to pursue aggressive curative treatment. That can be a very difficult moment for you. Hospice at Home understands and is here to support you as well as your patient and your patient's family and friends.

Myth #1: Physicians, nurses, case managers, discharge planners and social workers are held accountable if a patient outlives the six month prognosis.

Fact: It is not uncommon for many hospice patients to exceed their initial prognoses. In fact, a number of patients each year are discharged from Hospice care because they experience a significant level of improvement in their overall health.

It is the responsibility of the Hospice at Home team members to monitor the patient to determine if the patient continues to meet the hospice guidelines for eligibility. Patients may continue with hospice care with no consequence to the referring healthcare professionals.

Myth #2: Patients die sooner with hospice care than without.

Fact: It is Hospice at Home's philosophy to neither speed up nor slow down the natural dying process. However, it is believed that patients may actually live longer once their pain and suffering are adequately managed. Published studies show that when palliative and hospice care are offered as early as appropriate, patients have prolonged their lives by 20 to 69 days because not only is the quality of their physical life improved through pain management and stabilization of symptoms, but also their emotional and spiritual needs are addressed. We encourage all medical professionals to discuss palliative and hospice care with patients diagnosed with a serious or life-limiting illness, disease or injury and their families or caregivers.

Myth #3: Hospice will only treat symptoms related to the terminal diagnosis.

Fact: Hospice at Home specializes in palliative care. Our services provide care that gives comfort. In order to provide overall comfort, we believe that we must treat illnesses unrelated to the patient's terminal illness if it will bring the individual relief or increased quality of life. Therefore, illnesses or injuries such as UTI's, pneumonia or broken bones will receive appropriate attention.

Myth #4: Therapies such as blood transfusions and radiation automatically exclude a patient from hospice medical care.

Fact: Many therapies that once prohibited a patient from obtaining hospice care services are now considered on a case-by-case basis. To be approved, these therapies must be used for palliative (comfort) purposes, not to attempt to "cure" the illness.

Myth #5: Patients must sign a "Do Not Resuscitate (DNR)" form prior to admission to hospice care.

Fact: Although the majority of hospice patients choose to sign a DNR prior to entry into hospice, this is not a requirement for admission. If a patient or family makes the decision to sign a DNR, the document may be signed at any time. DNR status has no bearing on the care that a patient receives while enrolled in hospice services.

Myth #6: It is complicated to refer a patient to Hospice at Home.

Fact: Nothing could be easier! Simply follow these few simple steps:

  1. Ask yourself, "Would I be surprised if this patient were still alive a year from now?" If the answer is yes, then talk with your patient about hospice. These guidelines can help you and your patient make an informed decision.
  2. Call the Hospice at Home Referral Center at 269-429-7189 or 800-717-3811.
  3. Fax your patient's latest History and Physical (H&P) or physician's notes to 269-428-3499.

That's it! Hospice at Home will take care of the rest!

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