Getting Doctors to Talk About Hospice

Doctors and other medical personnel need to know about hospice. Doctors who treat patients for conditions that can lead to death should, for the sake of their patients, become familiar with the concept of hospice. Physicians must consider the needs of each patient and be prepared to share information about hospice care in a timely manner.

A report published by University of Nebraska in 2003 states “at least one-quarter of physicians do not discuss hospice options with their terminally ill patients.” This statistic is surprising and baffling. As hospice care becomes more popular among Americans and hospice information becomes more readily available, we must hope that more doctors will talk to terminally ill patients and their families about hospice.

The report also says the timing of the hospice discussion seems to be the single most influential factor in utilization.” It continues: “families who were provided hospice information before and during their relative’s terminal illness were seven times more likely to consider hospice than those families who knew of hospice before the illness but did not receive further information during the illness.”

The message is clear. Doctors should not be afraid to talk about hospice. Hospices need to step up our outreach to the medical community. Patients and families should not pre-empt conversations about hospice.

In fact, patients and family members need to be pro-active so that all avenues of care are explored. Feel free to ask your doctor about hospice at any point during treatment. You may also want to ask friends, your minister and other medical personnel for information and thoughts about hospice.

Another conclusion from the University of Nebraska report is this one: “The majority of hospice family survivors reported that they would have welcomed more information about hospice from their physicians at the time the diagnosis was labeled terminal.”

At Hope Hospice (based in metro St. Louis), we are always ready to answer your questions about hospice care. We are eager to share information about Hope Hospice with patients, family members and doctors. Call us for information at 314-984-9800. Please visit our website:


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