Hospice Patients Alliance: Consumer Advocacy

"Hospice Industry Shoots Itself In the Foot"

While the Hospice of the Florida Suncoast ("HFLS") works diligently with right-to-kill zealot Ronald Cranford, Attorney George Felos (former HFLS board member) and others attempting to "assist" disabled Terri Schiavo to death, the entire hospice industry is looking to increase enrollment in hospice and increase the length of stay of patients receiving hospice services. Some in the hospice industry question why the Board of Directors of HFLS even allows a NON-terminal patient to be enrolled in hospice. There is no report known to us saying that Terri Schiavo is terminal; why is she in hospice?

Hospice industry leaders and planners often explain public resistance to enrolling in hospice as being caused by the public "not understanding" what hospice is all about. While many individuals do not truly understand what hospice is all about, there are many who simply recognize the realities of the industry. Either through their own family's experience or the experience of a friend, they know that is becoming increasingly common for hospices to hasten a patient's death.

The public is not as dumb as the professionals in the industry would like to think. The public knows that if they enter hospice, in some cases, their death may be hastened. Doctors in the community often comment, "if you enter hospice, you'll be dead in two weeks." Why? Because in many cases, patients are routinely given morphine and Ativan (a common sedative) even if their symptoms do not require it. The irresponsible administration of clinically inappropriate medications in order to make for a "nice hospice death" is seen by some as what it is: medical killing.

If patients are in pain and need morphine, then of course, they should receive it. If they have agitation or severe anxiety, they should receive anti-anxiety medications. But in many cases, hospices dispense these medications to just about every patient coming into their agency, whether or not they ask for it, whether or not they need it and whether or not administering these medications shuffles them off to death much sooner than their disease would take them! And patients with a terminal illness do not universally wish to be hastened to their death. On the contrary, many patients beg and pray that they will live even just one more day with their loved ones. Family members pray that the patient live a little bit longer if possible.

While death is inevitable and hospice services do much to relieve the suffering of many, hastening patients to death against their wishes violates the trust of the community, the patients, the pledge of all health care professionals to "do no harm," and betrays the very mission of hospice. Many who fear being hastened to their death in hospice completely refuse to ever enter hospice. The result of efforts to kill Terri Schiavo (and others like her) will have drastic counter-productive affects on the entire hospice industry.

Hospices Seek Longer Length of Stay to Improve End-of-Life Care

The median length of stay is regarded as the most accurate way of showing the length of stay of most hospice patients. According to data from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization the median length of stay is a little over three weeks. Last Acts and other end-of-life focused organizations have consistently emphasized the need for an increased length of stay so that patients benefit most from palliative care services. Last Acts Financing Committee released its report, "Medicare and End-of-Life Care" which states, "lengthier hospice stays allow the patient and family to benefit most from the hospice services that Medicare covers ...." Discussion of the problem of short lengths of stay is found in almost every scholarly analysis of problems in end-of-life care.

[Update for 2005: Last Acts Partnership ceased its activities and all rights and copyrights to material produced by both Partnership for Caring, Last Acts and Last Acts Partnership were legally obtained by the National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization which has never renounced the dark agenda of these successor organizations associated with the former Euthanasia Society of America! Since NHPCO represents the national policymaking leaders within the hospice industry, it can be stated with certainty that the hospice industry has clearly been infiltrated by euthanasia advocates and that many hospice leaders are promoting the euthanasia agenda. - Ron Panzer]

It is clear that efforts to hasten the death of the terminally ill or to impose death upon helpless patients (like Terri Schiavo) who are disabled will cause many to think twice about entering hospice at all. And if they do enter, they won't enter months before their "time to die;" they will enter when they are almost at death's door. In fact, they won't have to "think twice" about it. They will know not to enter hospice if hospices like Hospice of the Florida Suncoast get their way in being allowed by the courts to kill helpless patients.

When one of the largest hospices in our nation such as Hospice of the Florida Suncoast can kill patients who are NOT terminal, the public will know that it can happen anywhere, in any hospice, at any time. It doesn't matter how many wonderful dedicated hospice professionals there are who would never think to do such a thing! The public knows: it only takes one right-to-kill zealot working in hospice to endanger them. And more and more health care professionals support the "right-to-die" (right-to-kill)!

Organizations with names like "Hospice for Hemlock" truly frighten those who are not seeking to be killed! The mere existence of hospices like Hospice of the Florida Suncoast, eager and willing to kill the disabled (non-terminal) and organizations like Hospice for Hemlock, will do more to shorten length of stays in hospice and decrease utilization of hospice services than many PR spots on TV and radio. Hospice could not find a greater enemy of the mission than those who seek to kill within hospice agencies! [Note: the Hospice for Hemlock organization failed, its website was taken down, but the link here shows how it appeared in the past, through the web archives.]

When organization such as the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and Last Acts say nothing about the mainstreaming of the right-to-kill agenda into hospice; when they say nothing about the attempt to kill Terri Schiavo, the public has a real right to be concerned. Hospice, as an industry, is truly "shooting itself in the foot!"

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