Ask ten people who have recently experienced having a loved one pass away while on hospice care, and chances are at least 1-2 will have had what they consider a "terrible" experience. As mentioned in an article by the Kaiser Hospice Network, the cause of such "terrible" experiences is often due to the deep, dark secret that no one in hospice care wants to talk about: Medication Delays.
Medication delays are a much more common problem in hospice than anyone in the industry wants to talk about or admit. And there is a good reason for that. After all, the whole point of hospice is to alleviate pain and suffering for both the patient passing away and the family members involved. A quick search of individual hospice mission statements contains universal common themes such as; ensuring comfort at the end of life, peaceful transitions for patients and loved ones,
Above all, the most devastating outcome precipitated by medication delays is the NEEDLESS PAIN AND SUFFERING experienced by both patients and their families. Even though avoiding pain and suffering totally while on hospice may not be possible, there are countless stories of frequent and reoccurring amounts of pain that could have been avoided had medications come into play faster in the hospice process.
Consider the following real-life experiences relayed by individuals to the BetterRX team:
"Nothing is more painful than watching your loved ones in pain and be able to do nothing about it. While in both long-term and hospice care, my family and I witnessed our mom suffering time and time again while waiting for medications that took days."
- Scott W.
"When I got the call from my brother that it was time to be there as the end was near, I flew to CA. When I showed up, we chatted for a bit, and she looked at me and said, "get me out of pain." It took a lot of courage to ask for this, and it showed how much pain she was experiencing. For the next few weeks, until she passed, I had one job: get my mom out of pain and keep her out of pain."
- Randi L.
Why it happens
- Complicated process Inserted by PBMs
- Disconnected care team
- Lack of visibility & accountability
- Workarounds that do not solve the problem, just put a bandaid on it
Medication delays not only hurt patients and their families but are also damaging for hospice workers and agencies.
Damaging effects on hospice care
- Hospice workers burnout creating high staff turnover and shortages
- Strained relationships with pharmacy partners & prescribers
- Negative experiences that can damage hospice reputation, causing loss of referral sources and decreased ADC and revenue
Now imagine having the following scenario, and the resultant consequences of such, reported by family members of every single hospice patient cared for by you and your team.
"From the moment my family member started hospice, she had everything she needed without delay. Her medications were always available, and we never had a moment where she was in unnecessary pain or discomfort. I'm so grateful for the hospice team that helped us through this difficult time."
- Becky L.
Join the conversation: What are your thoughts on medication delays? Is your hospice experiencing them? If so, how often? And are the workarounds helping or hurting?
Next Article: Stay tuned: Next week, we will be posting another article showing some of the major causes of medication delays in hospice and how to avoid them.