Many providers fear that an admission to hospice means that their hands will be tied in terms of testing and treatment. Once a patient is admitted to CareFirst, his or her relationship with the primary provider remains the same. The patient can continue to make office visits, which continue to be covered as they have been by the patient’s primary insurance.
If a patient’s symptoms cannot be adequately controlled in a home setting, CareFirst will arrange for and cover a short term in-patient stay at a local hospital to provide that symptom control. CareFirst also offers short term – up to five days – in-patient respite stays at local hospitals to provide caregiver respite. The primary provider will be asked to cover the patient in the hospital during these times.
Each patient’s case is fully reviewed by our whole team every two weeks. We are required by Medicare to review each admitted patient every 90 days for the first 6 months and every 60 days after that to determine whether the patient still meets the eligibility requirements for Hospice. While this is an internal process, we may turn to the practitioners at this time for their clinical opinion. If a patient does not continue to meet hospice eligibility requirements (has a prognosis of over six months) he or she will be graduated from the program with full discharge planning. If the patient requires our services again in the future, we are able to welcome his or her return to our care. There is no limit to how long patients can be admitted to hospice as long as they continue to meet our eligibility requirements.
At the time of death, the primary physician will be asked to sign the death certificate. As the death is considered to be an expected death, the physician does not need to attend. There is also no need for a coroner, and the CareFirst team can coordinate with the funeral home to assure that the patient’s final wishes are fulfilled.
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