Patients who require hospice care are most often living out the final weeks or months of a terminal health condition, barring a miracle. These individuals depend on hospice to provide the palliative care they need. Nurses who provide hospice care help patients in various ways to manage or minimize pain and achieve the best possible living conditions in their final days.
However, experience has shown too often that some hospice caregivers – many without adequate training – fail to properly administer and manage medication for their patients. As well, too often negligence occurs that robs the individual of the timely, comforting, and soothing care they are entitled to receive.
Neglect far too common with hospice care
Hospice is offered through Medicare to patients who are critically ill with life expectancies of six months or less, and who agree to waive curative treatment.
There are over 4,000 hospice agencies in the United States. Their mission is to assist on an around-the-clock basis to an individual’s physical and emotional needs in their last days. It is a flourishing industry that, in 2015, served about 1.4 million Medicare patients. As well, a little over 1 million of these patients died while enrolled in hospice care in the same year. About 65 percent of Medicare hospice patients were 65 years of age or older, and about 47 percent were 84 years of age or older.
Yet, in the midst of so many patients served on a yearly basis, the level of expected care often falls far short of what is needed. A Kaiser Health News investigation published in coordination with TIME revealed that numerous families throughout the nation have failed to receive the help they need at critical moments. Too often, unanswered phone calls, delays, and absent-from-duty hospice workers have caused families great distress, pain and even premature death for their loved one.
The investigation combed through 20,000 government inspection records, uncovering the fact that neglect and missed visits are common occurrences for home hospice patients. The findings revealed that government inspectors found issues with 759 hospices, over half of which were cited for failing to provide scheduled visits or other important services that were promised for the patient. More than 3,200 complaints from caregivers or families were filed with state government officials over a period of five years.
Diminished value of a life
Sadly, some in the hospice care industry have countenanced negligence from their agency’s caretakers. Others who have defended medical insurance companies over hospice wrongful death issues have also seemingly failed to properly value the lives of those in their latter months and weeks. Life in its final chapter is valuable – just as it is as when the individual is young and healthy. The moments family members have with loved ones in their final days are also precious. Lost opportunities to have these moments due to the negligence of hospice staff is a great injustice.
These cases can be quite complex with negligent hospice caregivers finding ways to avoid taking responsibility for their actions or inactions. This is why it is important to have an experienced attorney who is able to methodically investigate the case of your loved one, obtain the necessary expert witnesses, and maximize the opportunity for a favorable verdict on your behalf.
If your loved one has suffered or lost their life due to the negligence of hospice care, it’s important to understand your legal options. Medical malpractice cases have certain statutes of limitations. Our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys at Gainsberg Law can carefully investigate what has occurred with your loved one and the hospice care provider. We are ready to help you obtain justice and secure the compensation to which you are entitled for your loss. To arrange a free consultation, call us today at 312-600-9585 or reach us through our contact form.