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NHPCO Comments on Misleading Quote in Associated Press Article and Provides Helpful Information

Hospice is about Living Life as Fully as Possible

ALEXANDRIA, Va., March 3 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization wants all people to know that hospice delivers the highest quality care and services to patients and family caregivers who are coping with life-limiting illness. A recent article carried by the Associated Press ("Assisted Suicide Presents Legal Quandary," by Greg Bluestein, 03/02/09) carries a misinformed quote from an attorney who incorrectly compared hospice to suicide. This remark was incorrect and demonstrates a lack of understanding about the hospice philosophy of care.

"Hospice compassionately cares for people who are near the close of life - but hospice isn't about how you die, it's about how you live. Hospice and palliative care focuses on how dying persons and their loved ones live each day, providing comfort and guidance along the way," said J. Donald Schumacher, president and CEO of National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. "The quote from that news article demonstrates a callous disregard for all those who receive care, including family caregivers, from our nation's hospice programs."

Hospice is widely recognized as the model for quality, compassionate care for people facing a life-limiting illness or injury. Hospice and palliative care involve a team-oriented approach to expert medical care, pain management, and emotional and spiritual support expressly tailored to the person's needs and wishes. Support is provided to the person's loved ones as well.

"A common misconception people have is that hospice means you're 'giving up' or 'that there's nothing left for the doctor to do,' and that's absolutely wrong. Hospice is not about giving up but is about maximizing the quality of life, no matter how long that might be," Schumacher said.

When cure is no longer possible, hospice provides the type of care most people say they want at the end of life - comfort and quality of life. The most common statement made by families who chose hospice for their loved one is, "we wish we had known about hospice sooner."

  • Hospice focuses on caring, not curing and, in most cases, care is provided in the person's home.
  • Hospice care also is provided in freestanding hospice centers, hospitals, and nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
  • Hospice services are available to patients of any age, religion, race, or illness.
  • Hospice provides bereavement support to families for 12 months following the death of their loved one.
  • Hospice care is covered under Medicare, Medicaid, most private insurance plans, HMOs, and other managed care organizations
  • Research has shown the Medicare beneficiaries that opted for hospice care as opposed to other medical interventions when faced with a terminal illness lived on average 29 days longer than those who did not receive hospice care.

Foundational values of NHPCO include universal access to high quality hospice and palliative care, fully informed decision-making, mitigation of unwanted suffering, non-abandonment and support for the bereaved. NHPCO would encourage all those struggling with serious and life-limiting illness to fully explore hospice and palliative care services before they find themselves in a crisis situation involving options for care of a dying loved one.

To learn more about hospice and palliative care, dealing with pain, and advance care planning, visit NHPCO's Caring Connections at or call 1-800-658-8898.

SOURCE National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization
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