DOI: 10.1177/23337214221109984">

The forgotten and misdiagnosed care transition: Live discharge from hospice care

Document Type


Publication Date



Social Work

Publication Title

Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine


Every aspect of the United States healthcare industry presents transitions in care—hospitalizations, rehabilitation, long-term care placement—each requiring careful attention. With a goal of maintaining safety during a known point of vulnerability for patients, discharge planning is required in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and home health agencies under Medicare guidelines. Yet, no required discharge planning or clear guidelines are available for a discharge from hospice; it is a forgotten care transition in our healthcare system. Of the 1.6 million Medicare recipients hospices serve each year, hospices discharge 17.4% alive. Under Medicare regulations, if clinicians cannot document acceptable patient decline, then patients are decertified from hospice categorized as “no longer terminally ill”, otherwise known as a live discharge. These patients are often referred to as “not dying fast enough,” or “failure to die on time,” as ultimately, they are still dying, and they are still terminally ill, just not within the prescribed 6-month framework. This paper outlines what is known about the occurrences and experiences of live discharge from hospice care and provides suggestions for improving both practice and policy.

Link to Published Version

DOI: 10.1177/23337214221109984