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Hospice refers to a type of care that can be provided to persons with life-limiting medical conditions, usually having a life expectancy of six months or less if the condition follows its predicted course. "Hospice emphasizes palliative rather than curative treatment; quality rather than quantity of life."
The hospice plan of care for each patient is determined by the patient and those to be involved in carrying it out. Family members, friends, physicians, nurses, social workers, pastors, home care aides, therapists, and volunteers may all become a part of the support team as the patient is provided with services allowing for the best possible quality of life for however long it lasts. Medication is used to control pain and to enhance quality of life, but not to attempt to cure the primary, life-limiting diagnosis.
Hospice is ethical and legal because it is made in conjunction with the patient's wishes and beliefs, allowing the patient as much control as possible over the circumstances and location in which end of life care is delivered.
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