Hospice Patients Alliance: Consumer Advocacy


The professional hospice nurse is a Registered Nurse with specialized training in evaluating and caring for the terminally ill patient and assisting their families. The hospice nurse must be an expert in listening, observing, communicating, and sensitively providing care under some of the most emotionally intense atmospheres imaginable. The RN case manager is the first and foremost contact the patient and family have with the hospice. It is the RN case manager who makes referrals to other hospice professionals and who contacts the physician for the initial medical orders.

The RN Case Manager will be constantly watching and observing changes which occur moment by moment in the terminally ill. After assessing the patient's signs and symptoms, she will create a plan of care along with the other hospice team members, and be responsible to reassess that plan of care in order to assure the comfort and management of symptoms which the patient may have. The RN may start medications based upon standing medical orders approved beforehand by the attending physician or upon new orders given by the attending physician.

The hospice RN supervises, teaches and directs other nursing staff. She is responsible for the care provided under her direction and nursing orders. She will administer medications, help manage symptoms, reassess the patient and consult with the physician as needed, and teach the patient and family about the nursing care and medications being provided. She may teach the patient and family how to continue to give medications when she is not there. If you need services which the hospice is not yet providing, your first step is to speak directly with your loved one's RN case manager.

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