Patients experiencing loss of weight and physical functions, increased hospitalizations, emergency room visits and daily dependency qualify for hospice care, according to Hospice of the Valley. Under Medicare as of 2015, a physician must certify a patient as terminally ill to qualify, explains the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.
Some disease-specific signs that a patient qualifies for hospice care include dementia, wasting syndrome and severe infections in AIDS patients, and metastases to multiple sites in cancer patients. Other signs include peritonitis or coma in liver disease patients and rapid physical decline in spite of dialysis for kidney disease patients, notes Hospice of the Valley. Medicare requires a physician to give a patient a life expectancy prognosis of six months or less to receive hospice care, explains the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.