“Hospice care” refers to end-of-life care. The purpose of this care is to maximize the quality of life for a person that is in the last phases of a disease that cannot be cured. Typically, hospice care starts as soon as a formal request or a ‘referral’ is made by the patient’s doctor. As the medical office, this may be you.
Often, a hospice program representative will make an effort to visit the patient within 48 hours of that referral, which is very helpful in everyone feeling comfortable. Usually, hospice care is ready to begin within a day or two of the referral. However, in urgent situations, hospice services may begin sooner. So the question becomes, when do you give this referral?
According to the American Cancer’s Society in Atlanta, it is time for hospice care when treatment can no longer help and the patient is expected to live 6 months or less. This applies to all diseases though, not just cancer. The patient, their loved ones, and you as the medical staff should all stay in communication to decide when hospice care should begin. Consider the patient’s wishes as well as their family members when it comes to declaring a patient hospice-bound.
While patients in palliative care may receive treatments such as chemotherapy or dialysis, the goal of this treatment is no longer to cure it. These treatments are given to make the patient more comfortable by controlling pain, with the knowledge that they will pass away soon and not recover.
An open and honest discussion about a treatment plan and a prognosis is very important. This discussion can help a patient and their family decide if they are going to continue with curative treatment or move to symptom management and palliative care at a hospice center. This conversation is taxing, but it becomes necessary when you as a medical professional see that it’s time, when you’ve done all that you can.
This is never easy. In fact, it seems like very little about running or working in a medical office is easy. It doesn’t have to be this way, though. For some difficult aspects, like insurance billing, you can bring in a third-party company to alleviate some of the burden. Then, you can focus on more important things, like your communication with and care of your patients. Contact Aptus today at 1 888-760-2455 to learn more.