Archive for Mistakes

Hospice: Mistakes and Disappointments

I’d prefer not to write these next words, but they are occasionally true: a hospice will disappoint patients and families.

  • A hospice social worker brings the wrong forms, wrong answers, or wrong attitude.
  • Patients rightly get angry if the chaplain or home health aid says one thing, but does another.
  • Families feel neglected because they phoned on a Saturday morning for an on-call nurse and are still waiting for the visit as evening approaches.

My goals for this website include being upbeat and informative about hospice care. As a pastor in various congregations over many years, I’ve witnessed hospice compassionately serving church members. The hospice “team” helped make the worst time of life become bearable. I was a hospice chaplain and now work with bereavement at a hospice. My current (and past) colleagues are responsible, caring, and thoughtful hospice professionals.

Then why say anything negative? Because . . .

  • Unintentional mistakes are made.
  • Sometimes there was nothing “wrong” done by any staff, but families can still be angry and will blame hospice.
  • Though I’ve only known good and kind hospice staff (and volunteers) . . . there will always be some “bad apples.”
  • When anyone searches for lousy news about hospice (like “killing a patient” by misusing medications or Medicare fraud), it will be found on the Internet.

Bad exists. Bad happens. Inevitably, the rare bad occurrences are usually more tempting to headline and highlight than the frequent, commonplace good.

What are some of the disappointments that patients or families will experience? (And what I mention next is not based on researching formal complaints or sharing confidential data about specific patients at hospices where I’ve worked. Instead, these are generic—but possible—scenarios that can happen at any hospice with any family while caring for a dying loved one.) Read More →

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