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Commentary on Media Coverage

Commentary on Washington Post article
August 21, 2014

What has been reported is not an accurate portrayal of hospice care in the U.S. Virtually all of our providers are doing the right thing and providing the highest quality care to patients and their loved ones.                                                                          

- Don Schumacher

An article was published today by The Washington Post (“As more hospices enroll patients who aren’t dying, questions about lethal doses arise”) which uses anecdotal information to allege that terminally ill patients died due to improper use of prescribed medications.  

A main concern I have is for the patients and families that might see this article or be frightened by the sensationalized headline.  The public deserves accurate and realistic depictions of the care they should expect from a hospice program, and these distorted and unrealistic portrayals serve no purpose.  In fact, they are harmful.  But, patients, families or even your staff might have questions.  If that happens and you are asked to respond, I would encourage you to stress the following:

  • What has been reported is not an accurate representation of hospice care in the U.S. Virtually all providers are doing the right thing and providing the highest quality care to patients and their loved ones.
  • The Family Evaluation of Hospice Care, a national post-death survey completed by hundreds of thousands of family caregivers, reports 93.5% of families rated the care provided by hospice as “excellent” or “very good" and 97.3% indicated that they would recommend their hospice to others.

As I’ve often stated, NHPCO strongly believes that all hospice providers must be fully compliant to all regulations and committed to the highest standards of care – which we know most hospice providers are. For months, NHPCO has worked with the media to promote a balanced and more accurate representation of hospice care in this country. 

Fortunately, our public awareness campaign Moments of Life: Made Possible by Hospice is garnering media attention and national momentum.  Positive portrayals of hospice are being shared with the public. 

It is up to all of us to try and ensure every patient and family experiences and shares that positive experience.

Don

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