CMS reminds providers about hospice care

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services highlighted the benefits of hospice care and reminded physicians and health care professionals at skilled nursing facilities and hospitals that hospice is a viable option for Medicare beneficiaries in a March 28, 2003, program memorandum.

The memo included these points:

  • Physicians can encourage patients to use hospice care, or patients can elect the care themselves.
  • Hospice care is intended primarily for patients whose prognoses are terminal, with six months or less of life expectancy.
  • Medicare covers hospice care for two 90-day election periods, followed by an unlimited number of 60-day election periods.

The program memorandum can be found at

Unannounced JCAHO surveys start in 2006

The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations announced its intent to begin conducting all regular accreditation surveys on an unannounced basis beginning in January 2006.

The organization plans to introduce a substantially new accreditation process beginning in January 2004 that creates the expectation that Joint Commission-accredited organizations will be in compliance with commission standards 100% of the time, says Dennis S. O’Leary, MD, president of Joint Commission. The next logical step is the introduction of unannounced surveys.

During 2004, up to 100 hospitals will participate in the pilot test of the unannounced survey process, and in 2005, the Joint Commission will conduct voluntary unannounced surveys on a limited basis to all types of accredited organizations, including home health.