Myths & Truths About Hospice Care

Over the years so much about hospice care has evolved, yet the myths still surround it. It is our goal to dispel the myths and bring truth to what hospice care is all about. Below are some of the most common myths and the truths behind them.

(hover over the myths to find the truths)

Myth

It is the providers responsibility to bring up hospice.

Truth

Hospices consistently hear from patients and their families that they wish they had gotten hospice care sooner and while it is the provider’s responsibility to determine whether a patient meets the medical eligibility criteria to receive hospice services, it is appropriate for the patient (or primary caregiver) to initiate the discussion if they choose. It is a good idea to let the physician know AT THE TIME OF DIAGNOSIS that you are open to discussing hospice care at the appropriate time.

Myth

Hospice is giving up

Truth

Hospice is medical care with the goal of comfort and dignity for someone whose life is drawing to a close. It is in fact “something more” for someone who has been told nothing more can be done.

Myth

Hospice is a place you do go die.

Truth

The vast majority of hospice patients receive care in whatever setting they call “home”. This includes private residences, assisted living communities, hospitals and long-term care facilities. In some instances hospice is a “place” for people whose pain cannot be managed adequately managed in their home setting.

Myth

If you choose hospice care you won't get other medical care.

Truth

While the hospice team will provide all aspects of care for the illness that qualifies you for hospice services, you are still free to seek treatment for unrelated illnesses or conditions. For example, if you are receiving hospice care for heart disease, you can still get treatment for a broken bone.

Myth

Hospice is only for cancer patients.

Truth

Not anymore. The hospice movement came to the United States in 1974, and at that time most patients had cancer. Today while many hospice patients have cancer, the majority have other life-limiting illnesses such as end-stage heart, lung or kidney disease, Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia.

On average at Hospice of the Northwest, one third of our patient have cancer. The remaining two thirds experience organ failure or complications from neuro-degenerative diseases.

Myth

Hospice means you are going to die soon.

Truth

Studies show exactly the opposite. Although hospice care neither hastens death nor prolongs life, patients with certain illnesses actually live somewhat longer with hospice care than those who don’t choose hospice care.

Percentage of Patients by Principal Diagnosis     NATIONWIDE*

Principal Diagnosis Percentage
Cancer

Cardiac & Circulatory

Dementia

Respiratory

Stroke

Other

27.7 %

19.3 %

16.5 %

10.9 %

8.8 %

16.7 %

*above statistics provided by NHPCO.org

Myth

You can't keep your own provider(s).

Truth

We encourage your medical provider or providers to remain engaged in your care. Our hospice physicians work closely with your medical provider – who know you better (medically) than anyone else – to determine the specific medical needs that will be addressed in your individual plan of care.

Myth

Once you choose hospice care there is no turning back.

Truth

You are free to leave a hospice program at any time for any reason without penalty. You may also re-enroll in a hospice program at any time, as long as you meet the medical criteria for eligibility.