When Death Is Imminent, End-of-Life Care Decisions Sometimes Go Out the Window

December 14, 2017

(STAT News) – Hospice care aims to provide compassionate care for people near the ends of their lives. This type of team-oriented medical care focuses on controlling pain and other symptoms and meeting the emotional and spiritual needs of patients and their family members. Although some hospice care is provided in special centers, most is provided in patients’ homes. Hospice workers visit daily to help their patients die with dignity and free from pain. That should have been what happened with Mrs. M (not her real name). But her son called 911 and now she is in the emergency department. I ask the medics for any hospice-related paperwork. They raise empty hands. There’s no advanced directive or POLST form, either, meaning no documentation telling me what kind of end-of-life care Mrs. M wanted — or didn’t want.

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