Can hopsice resuscitate a patient?

3 answers | Last updated: Oct 03, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

i understand about hospice (great program) can a person under hospice care try to be resuscitated or should they just be allowed to pass peacefully?i was told from a person that a hospice patient could still be a full code but from my own family experience hospice is used for comfort and many otjer things for a person ill and in final stages of life.Could you clarify hospice resuscitating or not

Expert Answers

Audrey Wuerl, RN, BSN, PHN, is education coordinator for Hospice of San Joaquin in California. She is also a geriatric trainer for the End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC), which promotes education in geriatric nursing and end-of-life care.

Patients do not have to be a "do not resuscitate" to elect hospice services. They can still be a "full code". Generally, patients and their families come to understand that resuscitation efforts become futile when faced with terminal or life-limiting illnesses. This is an education issue that both hospice nurses and social workers address with the patient and family on admission.

The hospice philosophy embraces death as simply the closure of the circle of life. We follow the lead of the body, and do all we can to control pain and symptoms so the patient can have some quality of life. This is what we call comfort care. We do not do anything to "speed up the process". Patients and their families elect hospice services because they realize that quality of life is different (now) from quantity of life. We allow a peaceful, respectful life closure in the home setting, on their terms.

If the patient or their family chooses to call 911, that is their right. Paramedics will arrive, perform CPR, and generally transport the patient to the hospital. Hospice is an alternative to an institutionalized death, so being admitted to the hospital would require the patient to discontinue hospice services.

Community Answers

Dorisj answered...

My sister died , at age 49, from lung and brain cancer. She was on Hospice, but they couldn't give her enough pain med. to keep her from suffering, as the brain cancer was terribly painful. Her husband, at her request, sent her back to the hospital, where she was kept under heavy sedation til her death, which was only a few days. She had wanted to die at home, but Hospice couldn't adequately help her with the pain. So she wasn't on Hospice at the end. I presume there are limits to how much they can do.....

Audrey wuerl answered...

I am sorry to hear that your sister suffered. From you discription, I believe your sister received what we call "palliative controlled sedation" in the hospital. This is pain control for those patients who have intractable pain, or pain that is so severe only specific medications can begin to manage it. Some hospices have facilities equiped to administer palliative controlled sedation, but most will need to send the patient to a hospital where a physician can oversee this care.

Some pain syndromes are very complex and require this approach after all other avenues have been tried. Most patients, however, can be allowed a peaceful life closure in their own homes. What is important to remember is that your sister did have her pain controlled, even though not where she had hoped.