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I look forward to Joy Ufema's column, Insights on Death and Dying. But I think her response to a query about whether every terminally ill patient needs hospice missed the mark ("Home Care: No Better Medicine," September 2008).* She implied that not every patient needs to consider hospice care at the end of life.

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I believe that patients need to know about hospice so they can make their own informed decisions about end-of-life care. Those with Medicare, Medicaid, or senior HMOs have paid for hospice care-and they're entitled to it.


The patient mentioned in the article received lots of love and attention at home. But because she and her family didn't choose hospice, she didn't have the benefits of a hospice nurse in helping her manage shortness of breath or explaining what was happening. Her family didn't get financial relief from hospice picking up the cost of medications, or bereavement support. The list of benefits of hospice goes on and on.


The goal of hospice is to help people live with as little disruption as possible-exactly what most people want. Not every patient wants or needs it, but that decision should be theirs to make.




Sunnyvale, Calif.


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