Elaine Mansfield: My husband Vic was strong and fit when he was diagnosed with incurable lymphoma. He went through chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant with relative ease and regained his vitality. Eight months after the stem cell transplant, we went to the ER because of swelling and arrhythmia. I refused to leave the room and witnessed as he was put on life support—a rough process. He survived twelve cardiac arrests of mysterious cause that night. He suffered in following months, but still taught a last class and completed a third book. Was this the time to call hospice even though he was undergoing experimental treatments?

Dr. Jessica Zitter: Unfortunately, at this time patients are excluded from hospice care if they continue treatments, even if their life expectancy falls within short prognosis for enrollment. The main reason is that when hospice takes over a patient’s care, they become responsible for costs, and are not reimbursed for treatments focused on treating the underlying disease. As you can imagine, hospice agencies simply can’t afford to take that on. Another issue is that the philosophy of hospice and palliative care is purely that of protecting patients from the symptoms seen at the end of life, which cause the suffering to which you refer. When patients pursue aggressive treatments such as most types of chemotherapy, there is a disconnect between the goals of the patient and those of the healthcare providers. It’s difficult to treat patients when these goals aren’t aligned. (…) Read Full Publication Here

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