Pain Management and Hospice Care


Unrelieved pain can have a profound effect on your physical and mental well-being. In New York, doctors have an ethical, moral, and legal obligation to treat pain as effectively as possible.

Also, hospitals, nursing homes, health plans and home care agencies accredited by the Joint Commission on Health Care Organizations (JCAHO) are required to establish procedures to support the appropriate prescription or ordering of effective pain medications.

You should make certain that your doctor is well-informed about your level of pain and understands your wish to receive adequate pain management. Express the nature and intensity of your pain to your doctor so that he or she can assess and address your needs accordingly. Ensure that your Living Will or Health Care Proxy makes clear your wishes related to pain management. For example, you may want to state whether or not you want medication to alleviate pain even if it shortens your life.


Hospice is a program of care focused on providing comprehensive care for the terminally ill and their families. The program provides palliative and supportive care to meet the special needs arising out of physical, mental, spiritual, social and economic stresses experienced during the final stages of illness, dying and bereavement. Hospice care programs are regulated under federal and state law.

In New York State, there are about fifty state certified hospice care programs. You or your health care agent may indicate a preference for a hospice program in advance to fulfill your needs. Here are some factors to consider about hospice care:

 – Hospice care services provided by state certified programs are usually covered by insurance such as Medicare, Medicaid, and commercial health insurance plans. Generally, hospice care is a covered benefit if you have a terminal illness with 6 months or less to live and a physician has certified that hospice care is appropriate.

 – In New York, you can opt to receive hospice care in settings of your choice such as your home, in a hospital, or nursing home.

 – Under federal and state law, hospice care must be administered by a coordinated team which may include your doctor, the hospice’s medical director, registered nurses, certified home health aides, licensed social workers, pastoral counselors, bereavement counselors, rehabilitation therapists and volunteers.

[Preapred by NY AG – Health care Bureau]

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