As a medical provider, you may be faced with the difficult task of discussing hospice care with your patients and their families. At Spartanburg Regional Hospice, we offer information to help you determine if a patient is eligible for hospice and to start a conversation with them about end-of-life care. If you refer a patient to us, rest assured that we will do all we can to make your patient’s transition into hospice as smooth as possible
Is Your Patient Eligible for Hospice?
Any patient with a life expectancy of six months or less based on your medical judgment is eligible for hospice benefits. No specific diagnosis is required.
When to Refer Your Patient to Hospice
Consider these questions when referring your patient to hospice.
Is the Patient’s Health in Decline?
If your patient has a serious illness and has continually declined in health over several weeks or months, it may be time to consider hospice.
Are They Experiencing More Pain?
The main goal of hospice is to relieve pain and improve quality of life. If your patient is in a lot of pain, aggressive treatments may increase their discomfort. If the pain is frequent and uncontrolled, it may be time to start a discussion about hospice with the patient and their family.
Is the Patient Losing Weight?
Consistent, substantial weight loss is a sign of declining health. When a patient is declining in health, they may not be able to eat as much or at all.
Are They Sleeping Excessively?
If the patient is sleeping much more than usual, rarely gets out of bed or has shorter periods of alertness, it may be time to consider hospice.
Do They Meet Medicare Eligibility Requirements?
For a patient to qualify for hospice under Medicare, they must have a terminal illness with a life expectancy of six months or less, though some illnesses have different qualifications.
Do You Believe They Will Pass Away in Six Months?
If you wouldn’t be surprised if they passed away in the next six months, referring them to hospice can be a compassionate choice to help them experience a better quality of life and less pain.
Is the Family Emotionally Ready?
As the physician, you must make the recommendation for hospice, but the decision is ultimately made by the patient and their family. The possibility of hospice can bring feelings of sadness, anxiety and shock for everyone involved. The patient and family will come to terms with the situation in their own timing, assisted by your sensitive support. The choice to bring in hospice will then be more comfortable for all involved.
Caring for Your Patient in Hospice
If you have a patient who wants you to oversee their hospice care, you may serve as their attending physician. Otherwise, our medical director or another hospice physician will be glad to serve as their attending physician.
The Difference Between Hospice and Palliative Care
Both palliative care and hospice care provide comfort. But palliative care can begin at diagnosis, and at the same time as curative treatment. Hospice care begins after treatment of the disease is stopped and when it is clear that the person is not going to survive the illness.