What Happens if I Get Better While in Hospice Care?
Can a Patient's Health Improve on Hospice?
Yes. Occasionally a patient's health does improve on hospice, for many reasons—their nutritional needs are being met, their medications are adjusted, they are socially interactive on a regular basis, they are getting more consistent medical and/or personal attention, etc. Hospice is a benefit under Medicare that belongs to the patient. When patients enter hospice, it is because they qualify for the benefit and choose to access it.
A marked improvement in a patient’s condition could warrant the doctor reevaluating the patient’s six-month prognosis. If the patient’s physician believes he or she will live beyond six months, hospice is discontinued. If or when the patient’s condition begins to deteriorate, the doctor can reassess the patient. If the patient is hospice eligible once again, he or she can elect to resume hospice care.
Can a Patient Choose to Stop Hospice Care?
Patients can choose to stop receiving hospice services without a doctor’s consent. It is called “revoking” hospice. Sometimes patients choose to discontinue hospice services because they want to give curative treatments another try. Once they revoke hospice, they can elect to have surgery or resume curative efforts. Some patients revoke the care of one hospice to transfer to another. Whatever the case, hospice care is always a patient’s choice.
When a patient revokes hospice services, it also means revoking the benefits they may be receiving from the Medicare hospice benefit: home medical equipment and supplies, holistic or therapeutic services, home visits, etc.
Can a Hospice Choose to Discharge a Patient?
If the hospice determines that the patient is no longer terminally ill with a prognosis of six months or less, they must discharge the patient from their care. Other reasons why a hospice may discharge a patient include:
- Death of the patient
- The patient revokes the hospice benefit
- The patient moves or transfers out of the hospice’s service area or to another hospice
- Discharge for cause—according to the hospice’s policy, the behavior of the patient or someone in the patient’s home is disruptive, abusive or stands in the way of the hospice dispensing its duties to the patient.¹
Choosing to receive hospice services may feel like the end, but patients and families should remember that hospice is patient-centered care. If for any reason the patient or family decides it is in their best interests to stop hospice care, their hospice provider will support their decision and welcome them back, should they elect to return.