Myth vs Facts about Hospice

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Hospice is a fairly familiar term nowadays. Most people have heard it and most believe they have an idea of what, exactly, hospice care is. However, the reality is that the general population does not actually have a complete grasp of the concept. As a result, a number of myths and assumptions begin to be perpetuated and people end up being unclear about the facts of hospice care.

In an effort to clear up confusion and help people understand exactly what hospice care is, it becomes necessary to address what have become common notions and to correctly discuss them. First and foremost, one of the biggest myths surrounding hospice care is the idea that hospice means going into a facility. This is not accurate. Patients do not “go into” hospice. Instead, they receive services wherever they currently reside. Hospice care can be given in a hospital, nursing facility, assisted living facility, or an individual’s home. In fact, most patients and their families prefer hospice care in the home setting. Being transferred somewhere does not have to be a part of hospice care.

There is also a belief that hospice care prevents patients from continuing to see their primary care physician. This is not the case. The primary care physician can be as involved as the patient and primary care physician would like. The hospice care doctors and primary doctor work together to provide the best possible treatment for the patient.

Another myth associated with hospice care is the belief that patients can only receive the care for a short period of days or weeks. The truth is that, as long as a patient remains eligible, there is no time limit for hospice care. Eligibility is determined by the hospice physician. So, as long as the patient meets the guidelines, he or she can continue receiving hospice care.

Perhaps the biggest misconceptions about hospice care involve its cost, treatment, and the idea that hospice causes patients to die sooner. The idea that hospice is expensive is not accurate. It actually costs much less than conventional care over the course of a person’s final six months of life. Furthermore, it is fully covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurers. With Medicare there are no co-pays for doctor’s visits, nursing care, medications, equipment, or supplies that are connected to the primary illness.

People also tend to believe that if a person is receiving hospice care they no longer take their medications or receive treatment. In actuality, patients receive state-of-the-art medications and treatments in order to relieve pain and control symptoms. In this way, hospice patients are kept comfortable, reducing suffering and improving their quality of life.

Finally, it is not true that hospice leads to earlier death. Hospice is not intended nor designed to lengthen life or end a patient’s life more quickly. The goal and objective is to give the patient the best possible quality of life in the time they have remaining. No studies have shown that hospice hastens death, but there are multiple studies that have shown some patients actually living longer when receiving hospice care.

Hospice care is about making patients comfortable. It does not require a person to enter a facility nor is it exorbitantly priced. It is neither time limited nor means that treatment and medication are withheld or altered. Hospice care is a service provided to patients and their families in an effort to make the remaining time as peaceful and positive as possible. Finally, sometimes it’s just best to check with people you know. Try asking someone who has firsthand experience with hospice care and, more often than not, caregivers and close family members will usually say they only wished their loved ones had been in hospice care for a longer period of time.