Hospice care grows as do patient negligence concerns

While the for-profit hospice industry is growing and thriving, concerns about withholding appropriate care for dying patients are increasing as well, according to a report by Bloomberg News.

In the report, multiple examples of alleged neglect in the hospice setting were cited, with family members reporting that relatives were withheld options for medical care. Providers have been accused of boosting their revenues with patients who aren’t near death and not eligible for hospice—people healthy enough to live a long time with traditional medical care.

While many families claim that their relatives received high-quality palliative care, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services said federal hospice investigations jumped 50 percent between 2008 and 2010. In 2009, a Medicare oversight report found nearly a third of hospice patients were not getting services in care plans that describe the treatment and visits providers promise to give them.

“By admitting these folks to hospice, they are denied access to routine medical and rehabilitative care that they need to extend and improve their lives,” Cristen Krebs, executive director of nonprofit Catholic Hospice of Pittsburgh, told Bloomberg. “A vulnerable and voiceless population is preyed upon for money.”

More than four in 10 Americans now meet their end in hospice care, according to the Bloomberg report. Medicare’s hospice rolls doubled to 1.1 million patients from 2000 to 2009, the last year available for data.

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