When a patient is diagnosed with a life-limiting illness, it makes sense to consider all of the care options available, including hospice. Study after study has determined that while hospice remains the most compassionate and cost-effective care for people at the end of life, patients usually enter hospice too late to fully benefit from it.
Hospice care is appropriate for anyone with a limited life expectancy as certified by a physician, if the disease runs its normal course. Individuals entering into hospice care have decided to no longer seek curative treatment for their illness, and instead choose care options that are focused on comfort and symptom relief.
Predicting life expectancy isn't an exact science. Sometimes patients improve and are discharged from hospice care. Hospice care may be resumed later if the patient's condition warrants it. In other instances, a patient may continue to benefit from hospice care longer than originally planned. At any time, a patient may choose to leave hospice care to resume curative treatment or seek other advice.
Patients and their families can discuss hospice care at any time with their personal physician, friends, other healthcare professionals and the staff at NCH and Midwest CareCenter. Admission to hospice is based on a physician's and hospice medical director's clinical judgment that hospice care is appropriate for an individual, given the expected course of an illness.
Hospice offers a wide range of medical care and supportive services. Occasionally, a referral to hospice care is delayed in order to give curative treatments more time to work or to keep up a patient's morale. That's why it's important for patients and their physicians to have discussions about hospice care early on so that an individual's wishes regarding end-of-life care are known.