HomeLatest NewsHospice/Palliative Care NewsCore Roles and Responsibilities of Physicians in Hospice Care

Core Roles and Responsibilities of Physicians in Hospice Care

A recent article was published in the the Journal of Palliative Medicine written by Ira Byock, MD on behalf of hospice and palliative medicine physicians concerned about hospice care entitled “Core Roles and Responsibilities of Physicians in Hospice Care: A Statement by and for U.S. Hospice and Palliative Care Physicians.” According to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) “the statement earned signatures of affirmation from 325 hospice and palliative medicine physicians and represents an important resource for hospice physician, particularly in reducing variability in the quality of hospice care.” Below is the abstract from the journal article. You can read the full article here.


Physicians are integral members of hospice interdisciplinary teams (IDTs). This statement delineates the core roles and responsibilities of hospice medical directors (HMDs) and hospice physicians who are designated by the hospice program to fulfill core HMD responsibilities. In addition, we describe the basic elements of hospice programs’ structure and function required for hospice physicians to fulfill their roles and responsibilities. Finally, we call attention to hospice program characteristics and circumstances of the work environment that should raise a hospice physician’s concerns that hospice patients and families are at risk of receiving low-quality care. Such factors include lack of a functioning IDT, minimal physician involvement in direct patient care and clinical IDT meetings, inadequate responses to symptom emergencies in patients’ homes, and no or limited access to general inpatient and continuous home hospice care. We write as individual physicians who are concerned about troubling variability in access to and quality of U.S. hospice care. This statement arises from the need to protect the safety and well-being of vulnerable seriously ill people with their families from low-quality hospice care. This statement is primarily intended to be a resource to hospice physicians in negotiating employment agreements and justifying staffing and programmatic resources necessary to perform their jobs well. This statement may also serve as a resource and reference for patient advocacy groups, hospice industry leaders, health services oversight organizations, accountability agencies, and legislatures in efforts to ensure the safety, quality, and reliability of hospice care in the United States.

SDAHO also has this article on the Hospice and Palliative Care webpage under Clinical Resources.

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