discharge, end of life, hospice, live discharge



  1. Wu, Serena
  2. Volker, Deborah L. PhD, RN, FAAN


Live discharges from hospice may occur because of patient choice or provider choice. However, when discharges occur before death, patients and families may feel abandoned and left to manage care needs previously provided by hospice. The purpose of this systematic review was to better understand the nature of live discharges, including frequency, patient characteristics, and hospice characteristics. Of 44 studies identified for review, 13 met inclusion criteria and were published between 2008 and 2018. Live discharge rates varied from 5% to 23%. Patients' prehospice characteristics varied widely based on diagnosis, comorbidities, gender, race, and ethnicity. Hospice characteristics indicated that the likelihood of a live discharge was increased for patients enrolled in for-profit hospices and in rural areas. Only 2 studies captured the patient/family perspective of the live discharge experience, finding that the loss of hospice support was fraught with difficulties. A need for further study of the live discharge experience and the practices of hospices with high live discharge rates was identified.