Answering your questions about hospice care

Joe Takach kisses Lillian Landry in this Oct. 30, 2009 file photo, as Landry spends her last days in the hospice wing of an Oakland Park, Fla., hospital.

Hospice care, which focuses on the comfort of terminally ill patients, in the United States is growing. 1.65 million people used hospice care in 2011, a 16% growth since 2007, according to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.

There are still some barriers to Hospice care, according to a study in Health Affairs.

Kaiser Health News wrote:

The survey of nearly 600 hospices nationwide found that 78 percent had enrollment policies that might restrict patient access to care, especially for those with high-cost medical needs. The policies included prohibitions on enrolling patients who are receiving palliative radiation or blood transfusions or who are being fed intravenously.

Medicare pays the majority of hospice bills, and officials have raised concerns in recent years about possible misuse of federal funds. Eighty-three percent of hospice patients are 65 or older, according to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.

The article goes on to say, however, that every hospice is different and larger hospices (those that have over 100 patients) are more likely to be able to take on more expensive patients.

Susan M. Wolf, professor of law and medicine at the University of Minnesota, and Gloria Cade, director of hospice and palliative care for Allina Health, join The Daily Circuit Monday, Jan. 28 to address common misconceptions and misunderstandings about hospice care and answer your questions.


Hospice Care in America: Facts and Figures (NHPCO)

Learn about Medicare hospice benefits

Debunking the myths of hospice (American Hospice Foundation)

The Hastings Center Guidelines for Decisions on Life-Sustaining Treatment and Care Near the End of Life (Upcoming second edition from Susan M. Wolf, Nancy Berlinger, and Bruce Jennings)

Better, if not cheaper, care (Commentary from Ezekiel Emanuel in the NY Times)

As Nurse Lay Dying, Offering Herself as Instruction in Caring (NY Times)