Hospice Basics
July 5, 2017

Your Role in Hospice as the Attending Physician

Doctor having conversation holding clipboard

You are Part of the Care Team

If you refer your seriously ill patient to VITAS Healthcare and that patient designates you as their hospice attending physician, you can retain control of their plan of care and bill for the care you provide related to the patient’s terminal diagnosis.

As the attending physician for a VITAS patient, you are an important member of our interdisciplinary team. We work with you to provide your patient customized care at the end of life.

Hospice Helps You and Your Patient

Hospice care offers benefits, both to you and to your patient.

  • VITAS can help manage your patient’s care, preventing hospital readmissions and providing daily support.
  • You benefit from the support of the interdisciplinary team, which meets your patient’s unique physical, spiritual and psychosocial needs.
  • Our interdisciplinary teams include a hospice physician, nurse, hospice aide, social worker and chaplain. Your patient benefits from the comfort, dignity and personalized care the team brings to the patient’s home.

How to Refer Your Patient to Hospice Care

To provide hospice care to your patients, VITAS must receive written certification that, based on clinical expertise, the patient’s prognosis is for a life expectancy of six months or less if the terminal illness runs its natural course. Additionally, a VITAS physician must certify in writing that your patient is appropriate for hospice care.

What Happens Next?

You are jointly responsible with a VITAS physician for establishing, reviewing and updating your patient’s plan of care as the attending hospice physician. VITAS will provide you with written summaries on a regular basis and consult you about changes in your patient’s care plan.

Daily management of your patient will include consultations with VITAS nurses and other members of the interdisciplinary team, including updates in medications or a transfer to inpatient hospice care if medically necessary. Generally, the VITAS medical director, team physician and interdisciplinary team will take the primary responsibility for daily management of your patient. As the disease progresses, you can lessen or increase your daily involvement with your patient.

Ask our VITAS medical director or your VITAS rep about your role as an attending physician, or any other questions that you might have.