A patient, friend, family member, or other advocate who finds a hospice care provider’s services lacking, negligent, or abusive should take action to right the wrong. There are a number of possible solutions, but finding the right help often requires some patience and perseverance.
Contact the Case Manager
The first step is to try to resolve any problems with hospice care directly with the registered nurse who is assigned to be the case manager. That person should be knowledgeable about the care needed and received — and the people and personalities charged with providing it. Be sure you are specific in voicing your concerns about personnel, pain management, or other care complaints. It sometimes helps to write down the complaint — rereading and condensing it into a specific problem with an actionable solution.
Contact Other Hospice Team Members
Most concerns about hospice care stem from sudden and unexpected changes in controlling symptoms and managing pain. If the RN case manager is not able to resolve the problematic situation, or it arises after regular office hours, do not hesitate to contact the on-call nurse; every hospice must provide someone to be available around the clock.
If the hospice nurses are not able to convey advice about adjusting care or medications to relieve pain or other symptoms, voice your concerns to the hospice team’s attending doctor and then the medical director.
Finally, if those concerns — or complaints about other unfitting hospice care — are not addressed to your satisfaction, contact the hospice manager directly.
You can also exercise the right to change to another hospice provider.
Contact Licensing and Accrediting Agencies
For persistent problems with quality of care, violations of residents’ rights, staffing inadequacies, and other serious problems, consider contacting state licensing or accrediting organizations for help.
Licensing authority. Depending on when they were established and whether they are certified to accept Medicare payments, some hospice providers must be licensed by the California Department of Public Health. Contact the local Licensing and Certification District Office to find out whether a particular provider is licensed and to get help with possible violations of hospice care regulations.
Accreditation organizations. While it is not mandatory, some hospice organizations pay an accrediting organization to inspect their programs and certify that they meet particular standards of care — and then continue to be monitored to maintain quality standards.
You can use the advance search function of CalQualityCare.org to find out whether a particular provider is affiliated with any of the three hospice accrediting groups. If so, you can file a complaint about substandard care directly with the organizations, which include: