Resources for Physicians: How to discuss hospice with your patient

It is sometimes difficult to discuss serious medical issues with your patient. Nonetheless, it is part of the physician’s responsibility toward the patient.  Discussing hospice is particularly difficult, because it means that death is now unavoidable. Some people dislike the subject because they feel that hospice means giving up hope, or that “nothing else can be done.”

The true purpose of hospice is to do all that can be done after curative measures are no longer useful. 

      • Patients have a right to know all medical options for their disease.
      • Hospice offers complete palliative care, as well as spiritual care, and social work assistance to those at the end of life.
      • For those who meet the criteria, hospice is one medical option.
      • A terminally ill patient does not have to accept hospice care, but it should be made available to them.

It is often easier to explain hospice as an option of care when the patient’s disease first begins to worsen, not as a last resort when other options have been exhausted. 

      • It makes it easier for the patient to accept hospice if they have been thinking about it before it is absolutely needed.
      • People who know about hospice or have had a family member on hospice may already be considering it before it is brought up by the physician.
      • As with all difficult news and decisions, people will often have many questions and some grief to work through.
      • Physicians often need to set aside time to work through these conversations.

Discussing hospice may be difficult, but most patients wish to know the truth about their illness, allowing them to plan for their future. These conversations can often turn out to be surprisingly rewarding for the physician and patient.

If you have any questions about how to discuss hospice care with your patient, please call Dr. Jim Boal at Angela Hospice (866) 464-7810.


Compassionate care for children, adults, and families since 1985

Angela Hospice is a Felician-sponsored ministry

Angela Hospice Home Care
14100 Newburgh Road
Livonia, Michigan 48154-5010
TEL: 734.464.7810
Toll Free: 866.464.7810