Initiating the conversation about hospice is the fist step in helping a patient have a comfortable transition from curative to comfort care. As the patient’s physician,and as someone he or she trusts, you can play an integral role in helping your patient develop a plan for end-of-life discussions, patients are less likely to make the hospice decision without physician referral.
In the patient’s best interest, it is important to have the conversation as soon as you suspect the illness is terminal. Though patients enrolled in the last weeks or days of life do benefit from many of hospice’s services. Early referral will allow hospice to help your patient by:
* Providing comfort care for the patient’s physical, emotional, and social needs, as well as support and respite for caregivers
* Delivering care, medications, and medical supplies to wherever the patient calls home
* Providing assistance in making end-of-life decisions and allowing the patient to have a dignified death
* Offering bereavement support for families
* Providing care at no cost to the patient under Medicare/ Medicaid and most insurance plans
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