Questions Regarding The First Hospice Visit
To start the hospice process, a hospice admission nurse comes to the private home or home-like setting after getting certification from a doctor that an individual is appropriate for hospice. Pain and symptoms are evaluated to determine what medications and medical equipment is necessary to get the patient comfortable as soon as possible. At this time, the nurse often gets questions from the family regarding their loved one’s symptoms. Below answers some frequently asked questions that families often ask during the first visit from a hospice nurse. These same questions may be on the patient and family’s mind before even calling hospice. These answers may help a patient and their families decide it is ok to call hospice.
Most answers are simply answered by the following questions; does this help the patient get comfortable and help get pain under control related to the terminal diagnosis? If the answer to the question above is yes, then often times the answer to the actual question will also be yes (but the patient, nurse and Medical Director will make the final conclusion and decision).
- Is an oxygen tank an option while enrolled in a hospice program?
- Yes, oxygen is always an option; especially if this will help make the patient more comfortable (hospice’s focus is comfort measures, rather than curative treatment).
- Can current medications be continued while enrolled in a hospice program?
- Yes, current medications can be continued however, the nurse and Medical Director will have to evaluate on a case by case basis whether these medications are in the best interest for the patients’ plan of care, which is determined by the patient and family. In fact, some current medications could be covered under the hospice benefit.
- What types of IVs are used while enrolled in a hospice program?
- IVs (intravenous method) are used for several reasons in hospice and sometimes they are not used at all depending on the needs and wants of a patient. One reason they are used is to distribute medicine (sometimes taking medicine in alternate ways like orally can be less painful for the patient). Another reason to use IVs is for fluid intake, which at times is necessary and at other times may not be necessary or even wanted (the nurse and Medical Director will decide on a case by case basis if IVs are needed based on the patients’ needs and wants).
- Can feeding tubes be continued while enrolled in a hospice program?
- Yes, feeding tubes can be continued as long as the patient is currently on a feeding tube and it will help keep them comfortable (for providing wanted nutrition) and pain-free. It is recommended if a feeding tube is preferred by a patient, they should get one before enrolling in the hospice program because they are rarely provided by the hospice benefit.