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Waiting on Hospice Care Worsens Outcomes

The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society recently published the results of a study about the end of life and hospice care. The results of the study indicated that people toward the end of their lives tend to put off hospice care too long, which can add to their pain and suffering. Instead of getting the hospice care that they really need, individuals are spending days and even months in and out of the hospital, with their families struggling to care for them and meet their needs.

A team of researchers from Yale University followed a group of 754 individuals over the course of 16 years. All of the individuals were 70 or older at the time that the study began. While about 40% of the 562 individuals who died during the study received hospice care during the last year of their lives, the median time spent in hospice care for this group was less than two weeks. When these patients entered hospice, they were experiencing a range of painful and uncomfortable symptoms, including pain, nausea, depression, and shortness of breath. None of these patients experienced any significant relief from these symptoms until they entered hospice care. Nonetheless, these patients may have endured months of emergency room visits and various health crises before entering hospice care, which can not only relieve symptoms, but can allow patients to remain comfortably in their homes, surrounded by family members and loved ones.

Medicare has covered the costs of hospice since 1982, and a physician need only certify that a patient is terminally ill, or has less than six months to live, in order to qualify for hospice care coverage. Although sometimes difficult to predict, patients can leave hospice care if their conditions stabilize, and hospice coverage can go beyond six months if necessary. Some evidence even indicates that hospice patients live for comparable periods of time as those patients who do not receive hospice care.

Hospice is only of the issues related to end-of-life care that you should discuss well in advance of any incapacity or decline in the ability to care for one’s self. Someone who has not planned for hospice care or not made his or her wishes clear about end-of-life care ultimately may endure more pain and suffering than he or she wants or deserves. The increased need for long-term care and medical treatment also can result in the increased risk for abuse and neglect at the hands of caregivers. The experienced Wisconsin elder abuse attorneys of Boller & Vaughan are here to help you through the aftermath of any claims related to the abuse or neglect that you have suffered at the hands of senior care facilities, including CBRFs. We can look into the circumstances surrounding your situation, assess the circumstances, and evaluate any claims that you may have for damages. We know how to build a strong personal injury claim based on the unique facts of your case. Contact our office today in order to schedule a free initial consultation about any potential claim that you may have.