KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Patient Deaths Raise Questions About Lethal Doses In Hospice

The Washington Post examines the deaths of some hospice patients who were not close to death but who received large doses of powerful pain-killers.

The Washington Post: As More Hospices Enroll Patients Who Aren't Dying, Questions About Lethal Doses Arise
The hospice industry in the United States is booming and for good reason, many experts say. Hospice care can offer terminally ill patients a far better way to live out their dying days, and many vouch for its value. But the boom has been accompanied by what appears to be a surge in hospices enrolling patients who aren't close to death, and at least in some cases, this practice can expose the patients to the more powerful pain-killers that are routinely used by hospice providers. Hospices see higher revenues by recruiting new patients and profit more when they are not near death (Whoriskey, 8/21).

The Washington Post: End-Of-Life Care: An Industry With Soaring Profits, Funded By Taxpayers
But what happens when hospices, in part to improve profits, attempt to care for people who aren’t terminally ill? Whoriskey wrote about a 77-year-old North Carolina man, Clinard “Bud” Coffey, who entered hospice care for pain management — and died two weeks later. ... Before you consider hospice care, know the facts (Paquette, 8/21).

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