1. Health
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Discuss in my forum

What is a Hospice Emergency?

When to Call Hospice After-Hours

By

Updated May 04, 2011

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

If you are an individual on hospice care in your own home, or if you are caring for someone who is, you've been given a number to call for advice and help. During normal business hours, hospices have nurses available to answer any questions, give advice, and dispatch members of the hospice team when needed. Nurses are also available on-call after hours, on weekends, and holidays for urgent needs and emergency situations. But the number of available hospice staff after hours is much less than weekday staff and their resources need to be conserved for emergencies. But what, exactly, is a hospice emergency and what can wait?

When to Call On-Call Hospice (During Daytime Hours)

  • The patient is in pain or discomfort and the instructions previously given to you are not clear or effective
  • The patient is having trouble breathing and these tips for managing shortness of breath aren't effective
  • The patient has any kind of medical emergency that you would normally call 911 for; an example is a fall
  • The patient is constipated and previous instructions for treatment have brought no relief
  • The patient has nausea or vomiting that is not managed with treatment
  • You have questions about medications
  • You have questions about providing care
  • The patient dies

When to Call Hospice After-Hours (Anytime)

  • The patient is in pain and previous instructions for treatment of pain haven't worked
  • The patient is having trouble breathing and tips for managing shortness of breath haven't worked
  • The patient has a medical emergency that you would normally call 911 for
  • The patient dies

Caregiving Tips to Get You Through

Try these tips to manage symptoms until you can get hospice help.

  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. Dying, Funerals & Grief
  4. Caring for the Dying
  5. Hospice Emergency - What is a Hospice Emergency and When to Call Your Nurse

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.