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Hospice, Inc.: How Dying Became A Multibillion-Dollar Industry

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Hospice Inc.In a complaint letter to the Florida attorney general, Dunn alleges the company enrolled his grandmother “for the sake of billing the government for payment for their own financial gain.” The company misled the family about the purpose of hospice — emphasizing benefits such as at-home nursing care and free medications, without explaining that hospices don’t provide curative treatments, according to Dunn.

Once enrolled, Dunn alleges, Vitas gave Maples a powerful cocktail of drugs against the family’s wishes, and repeatedly bumped her up to the most intrusive and expensive levels of care.

The final straw was the apparent confusion over Maples’ “full code” status. It’s a designation rarely seen in hospice, because it means the family wants the kind of life-saving treatment that hospices don’t provide.

When Dunn tried to cancel the service, he was ignored, he says.  “It’s like she was a prisoner in their system.”

David Dunn, Maples’ Grandson

“Once she was on hospice, they did whatever the hell they wanted to do,” Dunn said in an interview. “It’s like she was a prisoner in their system.”

According to Dunn, Vitas’ actions hastened Maples’ death.

Allegations like those leveled by Maples’ family against Vitas have become increasingly common over the past decade as the hospice industry has undergone a titanic shift. What once was a collection of mostly small, religious-affiliated nonprofits is now a booming, $17 billion industry dominated by national chains.

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