I think it is absolutely fair to say that many misconceptions exist about hospice care that are simply not true. For example, one of the biggest misconceptions is that hospice care hastens the patient's death. It is not difficult to find people who believe in this, have a look at some of the comments left on my previous articles and you will find that many people do share this view.
This article will attempt to de-bunk the myth that hospice hastens the death of its patients.
Comparing Hospice Patients and Non Hospice Patients Survival
Hospice care is not aimed at prolonging the life of patients who are terminally ill nor is it intended to hasten their death. However, hospice care providers have consistently believed that hospice care has been demonstrated to prolong the lives of these patients, despite the fact that the patients have explicitly declined all further curative treatment.
It has been demonstrated in studies that hospice care is having a positive impact on the patients. According to a study sponsored by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, the average life expectancy of terminally ill patients receiving hospice care was 29 days longer than the lifespan of terminally ill patients that did not receive hospice care.
In fact, there have been a number of studies that have found that hospice does not hasten the death of terminally ill patients, but rather prolongs the life of those who are in the final stages of their illness. It was reported on September 19, 2019, that palliative care is associated with better survival rates among those suffering from lung cancer.
In the hospice industry, having a high quality of care delivered has been linked to a higher survival rate. In the case of hospice care, the team that provides the care is an interdisciplinary one that consists of doctors, nurses, therapists, counselors, home health aides, and many more. Every member plays an important role by physically, emotionally, and spiritually supporting the patient and the family.
Does Opioids Hasten Death
It is widely acknowledged that acute pain is a significant problem with populations with advanced illness and that aggressive opioid therapy is necessary, but many patients are undertreated. Untreated pain can be devastating to the patient and their families, not simply because the suffering that it causes but also because it means they are unable to achieve many of the tasks that are important to their quality of life.
Despite certain medical research findings regarding proportional therapeutic doses not hastening death, some people continue to perceive palliative care practices such as pain relief with opioids and symptom management as hastening death.
The most commonly used opioids include the following:
- fentanyl patch
- oral morphine patch
- buprenorphine patch
It has been shown in a study published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management that hospice patients who were given opioids, anxiolytics, and antipsychotics had longer life expectancies than those who were not given the medications.
When it comes to pain itself, it does not only affect patients physically, but it can also affect their health and survival as well, because it can make it harder for them to eat food, to sleep, or to stick with their cancer therapies. It is likely that the patient will have the fortitude to insist on continuing to live if pain and symptoms can be dealt with efficiently.
Studies and research have concluded that hospices do not contribute to the hastening of death in any way. Although there is clear evidence that hospice care is beneficial to terminally ill patients, there are some individuals who regard hospice care as synonymous with death. The result of this will only be unnecessary suffering as the patient approaches the end of life.
I would like to invite people to join the conversation in the comments section below, however, please provide value for our readers if you want your comment to be considered. My definition of value includes facts and evidence, not just stories that no one can confirm. As the sole purpose of writing this article is to separate fact from fiction, I will be very interested in hearing from you. Thank you for reading.