The hospice benefit is available to anyone with a life expectancy of six months or fewer — assuming that the terminal illness runs its typical course — regardless of the individual’s ability to manage the effects of his or her illness. The patient must elect hospice, then two physicians (most often, the primary physician and our medical director) will certify that the patient has a terminal illness. Many healthcare professionals mistakenly believe that a patient must appear to be dying — critically ill, bed bound, and unable to continue living life fully — to be in hospice. This is not true in many cases.
A hospice patient may have an identified diagnosis or a group of symptoms, or a combination of both.
There is also a hospice diagnosis of generalized decline termed “debility.” This is usually a cumulative group of symptoms evidencing progressive declining status. Please see the Yolo Hospice Medicare Evaluation Tools to help you determine whether your patient meets the criteria. Our staff is always available to discuss eligibility with you.
Here is a list of signs and symptoms that can be indicators for decline and eligibility for hospice:
- Multiple hospitalizations/frequent ER visits
- Progressive weight loss
- Decreasing appetite
- Increased weakness or fatigue
- Decline in cognitive status
- Increasing pain, increasing difficulty in controlling pain
- Increasing dyspnea
- Oxygen dependency
- Reoccurring infections
- Increased nausea and vomiting that is difficult to control
- Your patient no longer wants to go to the hospital
- Your patient no longer wants to continue treatment (i.e. dialysis, chemotherapy, refusing surgery, etc.)
Diagnoses that qualify for hospice:
- All forms of cancer
- End-stage acute or chronic renal failure (not on dialysis)
- End-stage cardiac disease
- End-stage pulmonary disease
- End-stage dementia (A FAST score of 7A)
- End-stage Parkinson’s disease
- End-stage multiple sclerosis
- End-stage liver disease
- End-stage AIDS
If you think your patient might be eligible, but are uncertain, we are happy to evaluate your patient and talk with them about Yolo Hospice services. Please call us at 800-491-7711 to set up an evaluation, an informational visit, or an admission. You can also visit our Make A Referral page for the forms you’ll need to begin the admissions process.