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Understanding Hospice Care

Hospice care is designed to provide patients with terminal illnesses with the compassionate, hands-on care and support they need to comfortably reach their end-of-life with dignity and respect. Hospice care programs are personalized and patient-oriented, geared towards satisfying a patient’s physical and emotional needs using one multi-disciplinary team.

A common question many hospice patients and their loved ones have is: can a hospice patient go to the doctor or hospital? Agape Hospice NW is here to help you understand the answer to this question and provide insight into how hospice care works.

Agape Hospice NW has experienced physicians who generally take over the care and management of our patients.  Agape Hospice NW is basically your personalized care team, and we go wherever the patient is.  We also respect and promote the relationship between the patient and their physician, which is why your own PCP can also be your attending physician if the patient and family choose.

Hospice Care in Portland, OR

What Is Included in Hospice Care?

Hospice care encompasses the necessary care required to satisfy the increasing demands of terminal illnesses and aids the loved ones of the patient in finding solace during this time. There are many services provided in order to keep a patient comfortable and independent for as long as possible.

These services include medical help, pain and symptom management, emotional and spiritual support, practical assistance with daily activities, and companionship. These services are multi-disciplinary and overseen by the hospice care team, which typically includes an array of hospice professionals, including a physician and a team of nurses, social workers, CNA’s, and counselors.

Hospice Care and Hospitalizations or Outsider Physician Care

Can a hospice patient receive care from a doctor or go to the hospital? The answer is not a simple yes or no. It depends on the context of the situation. In most cases, patients in hospice care should not, unless they are willing to terminate hospice. However, there are exceptions.

It is discouraged for a hospice patient to receive outsider care because when a patient is receiving hospice care at home for their end-of-life journey and disenrolls to receive care in the hospital, they become at risk for inappropriate procedures or treatments that do not align with their end-of-life wishes or that may result in adverse outcomes.

Hospitalization for Unrelated Conditions

If a patient falls victim to a condition or event that is unrelated to their terminal illness and they require hospitalization, they are able to seek the care they need if your hospice team cannot address these issues where the patient is residing. Depending on the issue, the patient may need to revoke hospice services.

Hospital and Doctor Visits Related to Terminal Conditions

It is important for hospice patients to be aware that they cannot seek outside medical help regarding their terminal illness. This means that if they were to visit a doctor outside of their hospice care plan or receive care from a hospital, their hospice plan may be terminated.

Additionally, even with hospice coverage, medical bills associated with these visits are at risk of being your responsibility to cover unless your insurance company was notified prior to the visit. If they were unaware, you will be responsible for paying the full amount of the stay.

Navigating Medical Crises While in Hospice Care

If you are experiencing pain or worsening symptoms that would otherwise be considered a valid reason to take a trip to the emergency room, you can opt for continuous home care. Continuous care is more intensive hospice care that provides a patient with higher levels of medical care and monitoring to address acute medical conditions.

Continuous care is beneficial, as it helps patients avoid receiving care from unfamiliar hospital staff rather than their personalized care team. Continuous care can be provided from 8-24 hours a day, enabling the patient to receive medications and support around the clock.

Medication Issues While in Hospice Care

Hospice is very much a team effort. If you are receiving hospice care and you are having troubles with your medications, such as the medication not working properly, or you are noticing unpleasant changes in your condition that the medication is not addressing, it’s imperative to communicate frequently with your Agape Hospice NW team.  We provide a personalized care plan depending on our patients and families care needs and wishes, and often times these care plans need to be continuously modified and updated and the patients disease progresses.

Our team will be able to immediately handle the situation and adjust or add appropriate medications in order to address your concerns. It is imperative to avoid taking matters into your own hands with outside care, as it can void your hospice care plan.

Modifying Hospice Care Plans

If at any point during the hospice care process, a patient or their loved ones feels as though the patient’s needs are not being met or that the patient’s needs may be changing, the hospice care plan can be modified by adding or eliminating certain aspects to improve the patient’s comfort.

Additionally, if at any point during hospice care, a patient decides they wish to forfeit the process to pursue curative treatment, they are entitled to do so. The patient may return to hospice care in the future so long as they still meet the requirements.

In Conclusion: Can a Hospice Patient Go to The Doctor?

A hospice patient should not go to the doctor or hospital unless they are seeking emergency intervention for an unrelated condition that is separate from their terminal illness. Otherwise, all necessary modifications or treatments should be handled and administered by the hospice care team.

Contact Portland’s Trusted Hospice Care Professionals

Hospice care is a significant decision and requires the nurturing approach of compassionate professionals. The care professionals of Agape Hospice NW are here to offer support for your or your loved one’s end-of-life journey. Contact our team today to discuss how we can help.