Why Do Patients Leave Hospice Care?

According to Dr. Alexander Peralta, chief medical director at Faith Presbyterian Hospice and the T. Boone Pickens Hospice and Palliative Care Center, two of the most common reasons hospice patients are discharged are:

  • Disease stabilization or remission
  • Pursuit of holistic and integrated therapies

Disease Stabilization or Remission

In some instances, patients with a terminal diagnosis don’t receive the proper medications and dosages for their ailments prior to receiving hospice care. Dr. Peralta explained that this can happen for a variety of reasons, including improper self-administration of medication or financial hardship.

“These issues are solved when patients receive hospice care because we provide all the medications that are needed for their terminal diagnosis,” added Dr. Peralta. “For the first time, some patients are getting all their medications at the right time, at the right frequency and at the right dosage. What happens then is they get better.”

Dr. Peralta pointed out that in other instances, patients with a terminal diagnosis receive treatment that is so severe it worsens their illness. This is common in patients suffering from chronic cancer.

“These patients come to hospice and get palliative measures and comfort care, and suddenly they get better,” explained Dr. Peralta. “This doesn’t mean they’re cured, but they regain functionality. They no longer need acute, intensive and aggressive palliative treatments to address their symptoms.”

According to the U.S. Medicare policy, patients are discharged from hospice care if their condition improves and their illness is no longer deemed terminal.

Pursuit of Holistic and Integrated Therapies

A core component of hospice is a patient’s freedom to personalize their care. Patients and their families determine when care will begin and end, where it will be administered, and who will be involved in the caring process. As a hospice benefit, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) ensure that patients and their representatives can choose to discontinue hospice care at any time.

“We always work to understand the patient and their family’s perspective and needs,” said Dr. Peralta. “Our holistic approach also involves being open to them seeking holistic care and therapies. We’re supportive of integrated therapies that’ll boost their physical, psychological, social and spiritual well-being.”

Some holistic care and therapy options offered at Faith Presbyterian Hospice include:

  • Pet therapy
  • Licensed, certified music therapy
  • Certified massage therapy

If eligible, patients who discontinue hospice care may pursue it again should they deem it beneficial.