When a loved one receives hospice care, the hope is that they will receive the medical, physical, emotional and spiritual care and support needed in their final weeks and days. It is undoubtedly an upsetting time for everyone involved, and hospice services are supposed to make the situation a little less painful.
However, a recent investigation revealed that hundreds of patients and families in hospice have been neglected.
Complaints and poor care
After an analysis of 20,000 in-home hospice inspection records by Kaiser Health News, it was determined that 3,200 complaints have been filed in the past five years. Many of these complaints stemmed from:
- Unanswered calls from patients and caregivers
- Inaccessible doctors and nurses
- Missing medications or devices
- Neglected personal care services
- Missed visits
As a result of these poor conditions and responses, patients have passed away in pain and without the services promised to them.
What is being done to address these issues?
As noted in the report, Medicare is supposed to supervise hospices, but many are not inspected regularly or frequently. In response, the rules were changed to require inspection of hospices at least once every three years. Additional measures, including termination of payment, have been considered to punish hospices, but these efforts put patients at risk of losing services.
Unfortunately, there will likely still be patients, caregivers and family members who suffer because of neglect and substandard care in hospice. And in many cases, actions to address a complaint and penalize neglectful parties will prove to be inadequate.
As such, it can be important for people affected by poor medical care and neglect to discuss their case with an attorney. Filing a legal claim cannot undo the damage that has been done as a result of negligence, but it can serve as a means of punishing the appropriate party and helping victims and their families recover and cope with the extensive physical, emotional and financial damage.