Why Don't All Hospitals and Doctors Use a Hospice Screening Tool?


Why Don't All Hospitals and Doctors Use a Hospice Screening Tool?

deco-676389_640This morning, I spoke with a reporter writing a story about the difficult decision we face when we decide to stop treatments that could cure and choose hospice services for our caree. (If you are struggling with this decision or have struggled and would like to share your story with the reporter, please send me an email and I'll connect you with the reporter.)

The conversation with the reporter got me thinking.

Why do we have to stay in the dark about whether or not our carees qualify for hospice services? Why don't hospitals, physicians, home health agencies and nursing homes simply screen our carees (and us when it's our time) on a regular basis? What if certain triggers meant that health care professionals must ask our carees (if appropriate or just us when that's appropriate) certain questions to determine if hospice would be an option? The triggers could be declining health, multiple hospitalizations within a certain period of time, progression of a disease process.

If the screening is commonplace and takes place regularly, then perhaps we wouldn't be so adverse to hearing the term "hospice" or so surprised when the idea of hospice is offered. And, if screenings take place regularly, then we'll have a better chance of using hospice services sooner rather than later. The regret from former family caregivers I hear most often is the regret of not using hospice services regularly.

I think of my dad and his two recent hospitalizations. He's obviously declining. What if, rather than running unnecessary tests, the ER doctor turned to a hospice screening tool? Perhaps it's too soon for my dad but how do we know? (I'm currently researching options and will keep you posted.) And, if we see the questions on the screening tool, if we understand when he would be appropriate for hospice services, then we can have better and more effective conversations about end of life.

And, what if, even as our carees still receive treatments, we still are offered the option of hospice services? What if our carees learned about all treatment options, including hospice, rather than just the ones that may (and sometimes may is only a slim chance) cure? And, if even our caree decides against hospice services, isn't that important, too? Shouldn't our carees (and us, when appropriate) know all options and then decline options and choose options? And, shouldn't all options be presented regularly so that as care needs change so can the decisions?


The hospice screening becomes both an education and a communication tool. We better understand when the time is right for hospice and we begin conversations about end-of-life care needs sooner.

When we know the truth, we can better plan for the future. When we know the truth, we can minimize some of the struggle.


What do you think?

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