Hospice Discharges in the South Raise Questions

High rate of hospice survivors, especially in Alabama and Mississippi, have raised doubts about improper practices.

At hundreds of U.S. hospices, more than one in three patients are dropping the service before dying, new research shows, a sign of trouble in an industry supposed to care for patients until death.

When that many patients are leaving a hospice alive, experts said, the agencies are likely to be either driving them away with inadequate care or enrolling patients who aren’t really dying in order to pad their profits.

It is normal for a hospice to release a small portion of patients before death — about 15 percent has been typical, often because a patient’s health unexpectedly improves.

But researchers found that at some hospices, and particularly at new, for-profit companies, the rate of patients leaving hospice care alive is double that level or more.

The number of “hospice survivors” was especially high in two states: in Mississippi, where 41 percent of hospice patients were discharged alive, and Alabama, where 35 percent were.

Read the original report here: http://wapo.st/1sBXsH0

Source: Washington Post