FHPCA’s Response to Huffington Post Article

The recent article, “How Dying Became a Multibillion-Dollar Industry” published by the Huffington Post, Handsspoke on the increasing business of hospice care. This article attempted to prove that hospice is turning big business and quality of patient care is suffering because of it. Unfortunately, this article’s reporting is misleading and sensational.


Ultimately, the quality of care a patient receives is the most important factor when in hospice care. Florida is ahead of most states by offering the “Hospice Provider Family Satisfaction Survey” as a way to help inform patients and families about quality of care provided by hospice providers. When reviewing the results, there is no significant difference in the quality provided by the for-profit or not-for profit hospices. The business model may be different, but ultimately the goal to provide excellence end of life care to dying patients is the same.


If you are seeking hospice care, we encourage you to consider a few things:


+Be an informed consumer. As with any product or service, you should be informed about what you will receive. Ask the right questions and talk to others in similar circumstance. Not sure what to ask? Visit FHPCA’s “Choosing a Hospice” page for questions to consider when seeking end-of-life care. It’s your right as a consumer to choose the best option available. To find a provider in your area, visit our “Find a Provider” page.


+What is hospice? Hospice is a special kind of care for people who no longer pursue a cure for their illnesses at the end of life. With hospice, care priorities shift to support patients and the caregivers with end-of-life decision-making to reach the best quality possible for each day. If a patient wishes to receive palliative and curative treatment simultaneously, the service they should be seeking is palliative care, not hospice.


The goal of hospice is to comfort the patient, and to educate and train the patient’s family on how to care for their dying loved one. Hospice does not provide 24/7 custodial care, but instead educates and empowers the family to provide the care. Responsibilities family members may have include, but are not limited to, bathing, medication distribution and emotional support. There are four levels of care in hospice, and providers must follow federal guidelines to determine which level is appropriate for the patient. If the patient’s situation changes and they need a different level of care, the provider will adjust accordingly.


+Understand the plan of care. When a patient enters hospice, the provider creates a plan of care with the family. The plan of care reflects patient and family goals and interventions based on the needs identified in the initial, comprehensive, and updated assessments. If the patient or their medical proxy wishes to obtain treatment that moves beyond comfort care to life sustaining, their goals deviate from the type of service hospice provide and they should seek a different kind of care.


The hospice benefit is available to patients for up six months, sometimes longer depending on the patient’s prognosis, but too often patients receive this care only within a few days of death. The sooner a patient enters hospice, the more benefit they can receive thru pain management, spiritual care, and possibly complimentary therapies such as massage or music therapies. The family can also benefit from the grief and bereavement counseling that hospice provides.


What Can You Do? The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization has been working hard to pass legislation aimed at increasing hospice surveys conducted by regulatory agencies as a means to ensure quality nation-wide. If you would like to participate in effecting positive change in hospice nationally, contact your local congressional delegate and tell them to support the Hospice HELP Act (S. 1053/HR 2302).


Additional Resources:

What is Hospice?

FHPCA’s Consumer Hotline: 800-282-6560

FHPCA’s email: info@nullfloridahospices.org

How to Choose a Hospice by Dr. Casarett