* * Anonymous Doc: "Are you saying she needs hospice?!" ("No!")

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

"Are you saying she needs hospice?!" ("No!")

I have an elderly patient in for a routine visit to the outpatient clinic, and find she has a fever and signs of infection.  I give her daughter a call.

"Hi, I'm calling about your mother.  It seems she may have an infection."

"Are you saying she needs hospice?!"

"No, I didn't say anything about hospice.  I'm saying she may have an infection, and I'd like to admit her to the hospital."

"I hear great things about hospice."

"Again, I didn't say anything about hospice.  Let's try to clear up this infection and see how she does.  There's no reason to be talking about anything beyond what will hopefully be just a few days in the hospital."

"You know she's DNR, right?"

"I do.  It's in her chart, and very well-documented."

"But you still want to treat her for this?"

"Well, I do think we should try treating her with antibiotics to solve this acute problem.  I don't think this is necessarily going to lead to something worse.  Anything can of course happen at her age and in her general condition, but I think we should see if we can clear up this problem and she can return to her baseline-- which is pretty good, considering."

"I was told the DNR meant that she wouldn't be treated."

"It means she won't be intubated, or resuscitated if her heart stops, but her heart is still beating.  She's in good spirits, she just wanted me to call you and give you the update."

"I don't want any heroic measures taken."

"We're just going to admit her and give her some medication."

"So no hospice?  Just hospital?"

"One more time, I have not said anything about hospice.  You're the one who keeps mentioning hospice."

"I just hear great things."

"Your mother will hopefully recover just fine."

"Be sure to give me a call as soon as you start thinking about hospice."

"I'll tell your mother I gave you the update.  Bye."


  1. I am probably very jaded but sounds like she's waiting for her inheritance.

  2. Wow, I've never heard of anyone so eager to have a (hopefully) loved one put into hospice care. It does indeed sound like a case of someone who's impatient to collect on inheritance. How sad.