Hospice Myths & Realities
Misconceptions about Hospice and Palliative Care
Misconception & Reality
Hospice makes death come sooner.
Hospice neither hastens nor postpones dying. The aim is to improve the quality of
remaining life so patients can enjoy time with family and friends and experience a
natural, pain-free death. In some cases, hospice care can extend life.
Hospice is giving up hope; it’s better to fight for life.
Most terminally ill patients experience less anxiety by refocusing hope on what might
be realistically achieved in the time remaining. If continuing uncomfortable and painful
curative treatment for an illness is fruitless, hospice patients benefit more from having
their symptoms treated instead.
A hospice patient who shows signs of recovery can’t return to regular medical treatment.
If a patient’s condition improves, they can be discharged from hospice and return to curative treatment, or resume their daily lives. If need be, they can later return to hospice care.
A hospice patient can’t change his or her mind and return to curative treatment even if their prognosis hasn’t changed.
A patient can go on and off hospice care as needed—or if they change their mind and decide to return to curative treatment. They may also enter hospital for certain types of treatment if it involves improving their quality of life.
Hospice care is limited to a maximum of six months.
In the U.S., many insurance companies, as well as the Medicare Hospice Benefit, require that a terminally ill patient has a prognosis of six months or less to start hospice, but a terminally-ill patient can receive hospice care for as long as necessary.
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