August 4th, 2017 by Attorney Roger Weinberg
Society glorifies people who never give up. Their heroic struggles end in professional, financial or personal success. We’re told that quitters never win and we should go down fighting. Though that attitude is key to getting ahead during our lives, for many of us in Maryland we need to switch gears as we approach the end of our lives. The focus should be on the quality of life, not just on lengthening it, and that’s where hospice comes in.
Hospice care provides medical services, emotional and spiritual support for those in the last stages of a serious illness, such as cancer or heart failure, with the goal of keeping a person comfortable and improving the quality of life. A critical, but often overlooked, part of hospice care is the support it also provides to family members who need to manage the practical details and emotional challenges of caring for a dying loved one. These programs offer services in a home, a hospice center, nursing homes, long-term care facilities or hospitals.
We all need to make decisions about our medical treatment. For many people facing serious health threats that won’t be resolved with a happy ending, hospice care is a way to pivot from battling a condition or disease to living the best life possible for as long as possible. The goal isn’t a mathematical gain in weeks or months of a person’s life, but how well lived that remaining time can be.
Depending on the person and his or her health conditions, hospice care for people who are terminally ill may actually give a better chance at a longer (and better) life compared to active treatment where patients are treated with potentially highly toxic drugs with serious side effects, while the person spends his or her limited time in a hospital setting where infections are common.
One of the most stressful parts of coping with a terminal illness is the fact that what may have been a very ordered, organized life turns to chaos. The person loses control of virtually everything in their lives, and in a hospital setting it’s very easy to lose control of your medical treatment, too. Hospice puts the patient in control. He or she sets the priorities and states what medical care is and is not wanted.
There are few, if any, of us who want to spend our last days in a hospital. We want to be home, in a place where we feel comfortable, safe and secure, ideally with friends and family members. As a result many people get hospice care at home, often with the help of home health aides or people hired to perform chores and housekeeping while family members focus on caring for their loved one.
While the hospice movement has greatly improved the quality of life of those who are terminally ill and helped family members cope with the impending loss of a loved one, there are also those who take advantage of this situation and seek personal gain. There are cases of neglect and abuse (especially financial abuse) of the most vulnerable of the most vulnerable, those who are dying, by employees of hospices and agencies who provide staff.
If you believe a family member was the victim of neglect or abuse while receiving hospice care in Maryland, contact our office. We can talk about the situation, the applicable laws, what types of damages may be sought and your legal options for obtaining compensation and justice. At the Law Offices of Roger S. Weinberg you’ll find compassionate support and experienced advocates to help your family through the tough times. Call 410-825-3161 today to schedule a free consultation.