Eventually we'll all face death. Not something we want to think about or ruminate over but it's something that'll happen to all of us. Some of us will have no time to make plans or say goodbye and others will face long illnesses that culminate in hospice care.
What exactly is hospice care?
In lay man's terms it's a place people go to die, in a semi-medical setting. No life sustaining care is given - the patients are terminal and usually have several weeks to several months left to live. Pain management is administered and spiritual and social needs are met. Families are encouraged to visit regularly but aside from food and general needs, pain management is the only 'medical' intervention used. One out of every three terminally ill patients in America choose hospice care.
The vast majority of doctors end their relationship with their patients once the patient enters hospice and many believe that this causes much distress to the patient and their family members. Feelings of abandonment are common, even though it's commonly known that no further medical care can help the patient.
A new study has shown that not only did the patient and families benefit from continued contact with doctors but the doctors did too. Researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle asked doctors, patients and family members to chart the journey from medical care to hospice and the changing doctor-patient relationship that ensued.
Researchers found that families and patients appreciated the continued care of doctors, even if that care consisted merely of an occasional phone call to see how everyone was doing. And doctors reported these phone calls and continued care gave them a sense of 'closure' and appreciation of the death process - and area where doctors are under-trained in or not trained at all.
Patients and families reported that when all communication with their doctors ended upon the end of actual medical intervention, they felt 'abandoned' by their caregivers, despite the fact that there was nothing more a doctor could do. Doctors who did not continue communication were unsure of how to continue due to the new status of the patient's health and were unsure that patients would benefit from continued contact.
But patients and families generally maintained that continued contact was highly beneficial.
The full results of this study can be found in Archives of Internal Medicine.
For more information on hospice care, click here : www.hospicenet.org or www.hospicefoundation.org
Have you been through the process of hospice with a loved one? Would you like to see some kind of continued care by the former caregiver (doctor) instead of all communication ceasing? Would it make the dying process easier?
All user-generated information on this site is the opinion of its author only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for any medical conditions. Members and guests are responsible for their own posts and the potential consequences of those posts detailed in our Terms of Service.