Many people spend their final days, weeks or even longer in hospice care. Hospice facilities are intended to provide supportive care to people who are in the last phases of a terminal condition. While medical treatment won’t save their lives, the medical professionals and staff can make them more comfortable physically and emotionally.
People in hospice care often benefit from pain medication, physical therapy, massage and other treatments that loved ones wouldn’t be able to do in a home care setting. Hospice staff can give the full-time care they need. They also provide patients who may not have family nearby with company and conversation.
Hospice patients can suffer neglect and harm
What if a hospice patient is harmed in some way, and passes away from something other than the condition that was going to end their life soon? Maybe they received the wrong pain medication or too much of a prescribed medication. Perhaps a doctor didn’t notice that they had developed another condition, like sepsis, that was responsible for their death because it wasn’t diagnosed or treated? Maybe they had a condition like diabetes in addition to their terminal illness, but it wasn’t properly monitored?
Many families assume that they can’t pursue legal action against a doctor and/or the facility since their loved one wouldn’t have lived long even if the malpractice occurred. That’s not always true.
Hospice facilities and their employees can be sued for malpractice, negligence, wrongful death and other wrongdoing if they didn’t provide the patient with the standard of care they were required to. If a loved one suffered unnecessarily from the actions or negligence of a medical professional, that can be cause for legal action.
When a family places a loved one in hospice care, they don’t expect their life to be prolonged. They simply want their last days to be as comfortable as possible. That’s what any legitimate hospice care provider seeks to do. If they fail in that through action or negligence, they can and should be held responsible.