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More Regulations Needed Regarding Hospice Care

Steve Wagner

Hospice is supposed to be a place of safety, a place where our loved ones can be cared for as they gently and lovingly pass out of this life. There are quite a few problems with this mindset, however, and recent years have shown us that the hope of hospice being such a gentle transition place is far more of a dream than a reality.

The largest problem with this ideal is that hospice care providers are growing at a faster rate than the government can keep up with regulating and monitoring them. In the last decade, hospice providers have grown by as much as 400%. With over 4000 providers in the country, and those providers caring for nearly 1 million patients at any given time, the government is struggling to stay on top of inspections and disciplinary action for regulation violators.

As recipients of Medicare funding, most hospice services rely almost solely on this funding to stay afloat, so when disciplinary action is handed out and funding is cut, it more often than not means a provider will go out of business. Since the loss of jobs and the loss of much needed care is not at all the goal of the federal government, new regulations are being passed to help keep up with the inspections needed, and to help Hospice providers improve and avoid funding cuts.

Because of the rapid growth, disciplinary actions have only been given 16 times in the last decade, in spite of almost 15,000 inspections, and over 31,000 violations found at the over 4000 providers. While some infractions are incredibly minor, others are extremely harmful and sometimes deadly for patients. In spite of these inspections, there are still hundreds of hospice providers who have been years without receiving an inspection, a problem that Congress hopes to remedy with this new legislation. The new laws state that all hospice providers must undergo an inspection at least once every three years, but skeptics say that even these new rules may not be enough to prevent injuries and harm to the patients in hospice care.

If you have questions regarding possible negligence of a hospice provider, give the medical malpractice attorneys at Wagner Reese a call to schedule a free consultation. You can reach our attorneys at (888) 204-8440.

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