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For Physicians

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When curative treatment is no longer effective or appropriate, Hospice of the Sacred Heart focuses on providing the best quality of life possible. Please review the other sections of our website to see the services that we will provide to your patient.

You will continue as the patient’s primary physician. We encourage you to stay closely involved in your patient’s care and we will keep you informed of their status. When making a referral, be sure to mention Hospice of the Sacred Heart by name.

When To Refer Someone To Hospice of the Sacred Heart

When you have a patient with a life-limiting illness or condition and the patient is no longer receiving curative treatment.

How To Refer Someone To Hospice of the Sacred Heart

When making a referral, please mention Hospice of the Sacred Heart by name to your patient. You may also contact us at (570) 706-2400 or by fax at (570) 970-9717 or by email at

Hospice Information For Physicians

Academy of Hospice Physicians (352) 377-8900

The National Hospice Help Line (800) 658-8898

Hospice of the Sacred Heart (570) 706-2400 The written testimony presented to The National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine Committee on Care at the End-of-Life by The Academy of Hospice Physicians The American Board of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (ABHPM) was formed in 1995 to establish and implement standards for the certification of physicians practicing hospice and palliative medicine.

The Centers For Medicare & Medicaid Services

In 2003, CMS published a provider education Memorandum Number AB-03-040 titled, “Hospice Care Enhances Dignity and Peace As Life Nears Its End”. This memorandum addressed several of the concerns that many physicians have had regarding the Hospice Medicare Benefit.

The Memorandum States In Part:

“…physicians and other health care practitioners can be encouraged that the Medicare program includes a hospice benefit that provides coverage for a variety of services and products designed for those with terminal diagnoses. When properly certified and appropriately managed, hospice care is a supportive and valuable covered treatment option… Hospice is not about death, but rather about the quality of life as it nears its end, for all concerned the patient, family and friends, and for the health professional community.

Physicians and health care providers in the community, skilled nursing facilities, and hospitals are urged to raise awareness among their patients about the hospice benefit and its availability. Further, a beneficiary may independently elect hospice care. The beneficiary may discuss this option in the event that he or she has a terminal diagnosis; however, in all such cases, a physician must certify that the beneficiary has a terminal diagnosis with a six month prognosis, if the illness runs its usual course.

Hospice care that is covered by Medicare is chosen for specified amounts of time known as “election periods”. Essentially, a physician may certify a patient for hospice care coverage for two initial 90-day election periods, followed by an unlimited number of 60-day election periods. Each election period requires that the physician certify a terminal illness.

Generally speaking, the hospice benefit is intended primarily for use by patients whose prognosis is terminal, with six months or less of life expectancy. The Medicare program recognizes that terminal illnesses do not have entirely predictable courses, therefore, the benefit is available for extended periods of time beyond six months provided that proper certification is made at the start of each coverage period.

Recognizing that prognoses can be uncertain and may change, Medicare’s benefit is not limited in terms of time. Hospice care is available as long as the patient’s prognosis meets the law’s six month test.

This test is a general one. As the governing statute says: “The certification of terminal illness of an individual who elects hospice shall be based on the physician’s or medical director’s clinical judgement regarding the normal course of the individual’s illness.”

CMS recognizes that making medical prognostication of life expectancy is not always an exact science. Thus, physicians need not be concerned. There is no risk to a physician about certifying an individual for hospice care that he or she believes to be terminally ill.”