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Why is Hospice Special?

by Viki Kind, End-of-Life Expert
December 04, 2013

Question: Why is hospice special? I thought all doctors are trained to handle end-of-life situations.

Answer: Thanks for asking me about hospice. All doctors have basic knowledge regarding end-of-life situations but not all doctors have had specialized training in managing the unique needs of the person who is dying. We now have physicians who have board certifications in palliative care so just like we have kidney or lung specialists, we also have physicians who have additional expertise in improving the care of the dying.  

The other reason having specialists is important is because even though doctors are supposed to be able to talk about the end of life, many doctors are uncomfortable with these conversations. This is why we are lucky to have the doctors who want to take the time to have the meaningful conversations with patients and their families. And we are lucky to have entire teams of hospice and palliative care professionals, including social workers, chaplains, nurses, etc. to help us navigate the journey to the end of life.

Have a kind and respectful day.

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Viki Kind is a clinical bioethicist, professional speaker, and hospice volunteer. Her book, The Caregiver’s Path to Compassionate Decision Making: Making Choices For Those Who Can't,” guides families and professionals through the difficult process of advocating for those who can no longer speak for themselves. She has recently launched a DVD that includes a template to create a quality-of-life statement.

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