Is it true that when you choose hospice that you are ‘giving up’ and that you cannot be admitted to hospital?
There are really two issues here.
The first is related to ‘giving up’ vs ‘letting go’. Many people believe that we must ‘do battle’ with every disease until death occurs and if we don’t, then we are ‘giving up’.
However, studies show that when we have a chronic and life-limiting disease and choose to focus on comfort, to ‘let go’ of fighting what is incurable and let a power greater than ourselves take over, we actually not only live longer but also more comfortably.
Hospice definitely helps patients and their families work through this ‘letting go’ process and live longer with less suffering.
The second issue deals with the common myth that hospice patients cannot be admitted to hospital. However, there are two situations where admission is usually appropriate and necessary (and therefore covered by insurance):
1) The patient develops a different acute condition, unrelated to the reason for being in hospice, which could be relieved or improved significantly with hospital treatment.
For example, someone with lung cancer falls and breaks a hip. Fixing the hip often allows a faster, more comfortable recovery and return home to be more active for a few months yet, rather than being stuck in bed; surgery is certainly appropriate unless their expected survival is only another few weeks.
2) A patient has symptoms (pain or shortness of breath) related to their hospice diagnosis which cannot be controlled at home despite continuous care from the nurses; they could be admitted under hospice to control those symptoms and once stabilized return home again.