Thursday, December 9, 2010

Myths Surrounding Hospice

From VNA Hospice Care:

Due to the mystery of death and our inherent fears of the unknown, the word “hospice” has taken on negative and to some, perhaps, frightening connotations.

Myth: “Hospice hastens death”

Hospice does not hasten death nor does not it condone, participate or philosophically agree with the practices of euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide.

Hospice is the antithesis of such practices. Hospice care is about living your best quality of life until you die naturally.

Several recent studies have been done that show people who access hospice care earlier in their disease processes live longer and better lives than those who did not.

Myth: “Hospice withholds treatment”

The type of the care that someone receives while still hoping for cure changes as cure becomes less likely. People mistake this change in care as a lessening or a “withholding” of what is often called “aggressive” treatment. Hospice is just as “aggressive” about the care that is provided as any other form of health care.

Patients on hospice routinely still receive chemotherapy, radiation, dialysis, blood transfusions, intravenous or enteric nutrition, physical/occupation/speech therapies and diagnostic work-ups, for as long as this care is medically appropriate and indicated.

Myth: “Hospice is only for the hopeless”

The nature of hope changes throughout our lives. When we are young we hope for success, happiness and many other things for ourselves and for those we love.

When we become sick, we hope for cure and when cure is no longer possible, we hope our remaining days are ones of comfort, dignity and ones in which we are surrounded by those we love.

Hospice care is about hope.

Question of the Month:

My patients always worry that if they go onto hospice services and have to sign a “DNR” they will no longer be able to access the hospital and will loose their doctor.

What should I tell them?


Patients do not need to agree to be “DNR”. This is a choice they make and does not affect their ability to access hospice care or the hospice benefit in full. They can continue using the same hospital for any of their care needs, as necessary, and they will keep the same doctor they have come to know and love. Nothing changes.

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