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My Loved One Is Unable to See the Doctor to Get the Hospice Order

what to do when the patient is unable to see the doctor to get the hospice order

If you are caring for dying parent at home, you could face an uphill battle if you are unable to take them to a doctor to obtain the hospice order. Your loved one may have severe mobility issues, making transportation difficult, or their condition may have advanced to the point where they are simply unable to travel. In addition, you may have to cut through mountains of red tape simply to see a doctor, but by then your loved one’s condition may have worsened. However, there are several ways to obtain a hospice care referral if your loved one is unable to travel to see a doctor.

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What to Do When the Patient Is Unable to See the Doctor to Get the Hospice Order

Your doctor may be willing to work with you and your loved one outside of their office to provide them with the hospice care recommendation they want.

Some Doctors May Feel Comfortable Enough to Write the Referral at the Patient’s Request

Many doctors are aware of how challenging even a simple trip to the their office can be with an aging parent. As a result, a doctor may be willing to write your loved one’s referral at a distance, especially if they have seen their condition worsen over the course of their illness. This is most likely when:

  • The doctor has seen the patient recently
  • The doctor is familiar with the patient and knows the diagnosis

However, a newer doctor who is aware of your loved one’s medical history (e.g. if they have recently been hospitalized) may also be willing to make the recommendation. The hospice order must come with documentation of a terminal diagnosis, so regardless of how long your loved one has been a patient of a particular doctor, this is more likely if the doctor has has seen them recently.

Related: How to Have the Hospice Conversation With the Doctor


Ask If Your Doctor Makes Home Visits

Another way to obtain hospice care for your loved one is to have your doctor make a home visit, during which where they can evaluate your loved one’s condition and make a recommendation. If your loved one’s doctor is unwilling or unable to make a visit, you may have to find a new doctor who can give the recommendation you want. However, you cannot simply hire a home visiting doctor for the purpose of getting a hospice order. While there is no set period of time for which a patient must be with a doctor before receiving a hospice order, they must be a patient before receiving one.

Related: “When Does Hospice Come In” Is the Wrong Question


Family Members and Patients May Be Able to Make a Self-Referral

If your loved one is unable to see a doctor for whatever reason, they may be able to make a self-referral for hospice care. This can expedite the process of moving your loved ones into hospice care, saving your loved one precious time and effort. However, their doctor must still order hospice and provide documentation of a terminal diagnosis. While you won’t have to wait for a doctor to make their referral for your loved one, they won’t be able to complete it without a doctor’s approval. That’s why this option may not be the saving grace you’d expect.

Ultimately, you can begin this process on your own, but a doctor will still have to refer your loved one to hospice care with a terminal diagnosis. While there is work you can do on your own to help your loved one get to hospice, you will still need to make sure your loved one’s doctor is willing to cooperate or find one who will.

Download Omni Home Hospice Care Guide