Limits to Life-Sustaining Treatment

3. Residential Hospice

"Hospice" is a name for a modality of treatment which focuses on relief of pain and other troublesome symptoms and does not pursue cure as a goal. This kind of care can be given in a hospital (and sometimes is begun there through "palliative care teams" in some hospitals), or it can be supplied in the patient's home - but there are also institutions dedicated to this modality of care. These may be appropriate at certain stages of a patient's illness - or for certain patients (notably, those who do not have the family or other support persons who can provide for care needs).

The decision to enter hospice incorporates a decision to forego certain support measures - it is customary for hospice patients to be DNR, for example, and residential hospices rarely have the sophisticated resuscitation and support equipment that an acute care hospital would have.

Is this a the moral equivalent of withholding treatment?

Would it be appopriate for a patient to ask for hospice care but insist that all resuscitative and support efforts be undertaken?

Created by Glenn C. Graber
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