Hospice officials like the end-of-life counseling debate

Hospice officials like the end-of-life counseling debate

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Some hospice officials say too many people haven't even heard of end-of-life counseling or home health or even hospice in general.

Utah Hospice and Palliative Care Executive Director Dan Hull said, "They don't even know, many times, that it existed before or they had those options because nobody has talked to them."

Hull says most doctors don't have time or the resources to be end-of-life counselors, and it's really not their job. They're more interested in trying to help a patient recover.

"A consultation, where he sits down for a half hour or 20 minutes and talks about what are the choices, is not necessarily going to happen on a routine basis," Hull said.

Some doctors will take the time to do this, but Hull says the majority of them won't.

"Many physicians won't talk to you about it. They say, ‘Here's a pamphlet,' and off you go," he said.

Hull admits the issue of dying is frightening, and a lot of people don't want to talk about it.

"We have children who do not want to accept the fact that their parent is dying," he said, "and so the child tells the doctor, ‘Don't tell them they're dying.'"

Family members who have trouble with the news that a loved one will die will many times spend a lot of money trying to fix the problem. Hull says they will spend a lot more money for intensive care treatment than they would with hospice.

E-mail: pnelson@ksl.com

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