The growth of hospice care in the United States and in other countries has led to a shift in the treatment of the terminally ill and elderly. Before hospice, many died in the discomfort of a hospital room not designed for end of life care. Unfortunately, there are still many common misconceptions about this relatively new type of medical treatment. A Forbes article titled, “Common Myths Of Hospice Care Debunked” discusses some of these common misconceptions.
- Time limits. Many falsely believe that hospice will only treat patients who are not expected to live longer than 6 months. This misconception is based on Medicare in which coverage for hospice care is given in 90 day periods for two periods. However, if care is still required after two periods, one can receive an unlimited amount of 60 day periods if they are certified terminally ill by a physician.
- Hospice centers. Many falsely believe that they need to receive treatment in a hospice facility. This myth goes directly against the philosophy of hospice which is centered on making end of life care as comfortable as possible for the patient. This often includes receiving care at home if that is what the patient desires.
- Stopping medications. While hospice care usually involves a shift in focus from treatment to comfort, it does not require one to stop taking medications. The decision to continue or discontinue treatment is left up to the individual.
- Another common misconception is the use of heavy sedatives as the main form of treatment. Since hospice care is primarily focused with making dying as comfortable as possible, pain management is a large part of the program. However, sedatives are used only as needed for pain management.
- You can’t go back. A final misconception is that you cannot decide to discontinue hospice care and go back to traditional treatment. This is simply not true; one can choose a different course of treatment at any time.