Question: How to talk to Doctors about the benefits of hospice and speaking to their patients early enough so that they can get all the benefits hospice offers.
This is a tough one! We, in Hospice, have been pondering this question since the Hospice concept came to this country so many years ago.
Honestly, the younger docs are more receptive than the older ones. Medical schools are now addressing end of life care on a more consistent basis and palliation has been accepted as a medical practice (to some degree).
If the physician has had a personal experience with someone close to them facing end of life they tend to be more receptive to hospice care.
Family practitioners tend to be more receptive than oncologists and other specialists but unfortunately family practitioners tend to send their patients on to a specialist and don’t really see them again except on the side lines.
Have I “ruffled any feathers” yet? Probably. I guess what I really think, and I know I sound pessimistic, is that after all these years hospice still hasn’t convinced a great many physicians of the need for non aggressive end of life care.
So if that is the case, physicians are not eager to refer to hospice, what is a hospice to do? Go to the community. Educate the community on the benefits of LIVING until they die; of having a quality life when they have a disease that can’t be fixed; of learning that dying is not a medical event but a social, communal event; that hospice is an option with support, guidance, comfort and expert knowledge of end of life issues.
When patients and their families begin insisting on hospice from a knowledge base of what hospice is, what it offers, when the appropriate referral time is and what questions to ask the physician then physicians will begin making earlier referrals.