Whitney Houston’s coma-stricken daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown, was likely moved to hospice care to make her as comfortable as possible in her final days, an end-of-life expert tells Newsmax Health.
The move also means it is likely the 22-year-old will never regain consciousness.
“First and foremost, what hospice is about is improving quality of life and preserving human dignity,” said Mark Speyer, M.D. “Many people think it is what is done when death is imminent, but it’s basically about making every day the best possible day you can.”
Brown has been unresponsive since she was found unconscious in a bathtub of water on Jan. 31.
On Wednesday, Brown’s family released a statement revealing that her condition had worsened and she had been placed in hospice care. She is being cared for at the Peachtree Christian Hospice in Duluth, Ga.
In hospice, patients are cared for by a team, which includes a doctor, nurse, social worker, chaplain, and bereavement counselor, said Dr. Speyer, associate medical director for Home Care/Hospice and medical director of palliative care for Loyola University Health System in Maywood, Ill.
The focus of hospice is to provide supportive care to people in the final phase of a terminal illness. Comfort and quality of life are the primary goals rather than a cure.
“In the curative model, the medical world comes to you, but when the curative model cannot provide any more help, hospice becomes your 911,” said Dr. Speyer.
According to news reports, the young women’s organs are failing and she has stopped receiving medications.
In some coma patients, a decision is made to also withdraw feeding tubes and hydration, Dr. Speyer said. It is not known if this is the case with Brown.
“Such decisions vary from case to case,” he said. “We weigh the risks and the benefits and are guided by the principal that if you are doing something that provides comfort we would continue doing it. If it would cause potential problems then you take the patient off it.”
For instance, if a patient is receiving thyroid medication and to remove it would cause hot flashes and other side effects, the drug would be continued.
On the other hand, providing artificial nutritional and IV fluids to a patient with end stage heart failure could cause problems such as fluid buildup in the lungs. So in that instance, such measures might be discontinued, he said.
Another difference between conventional medical care and hospice is that there are services in place to provide emotional support to the family before and after death, said Dr. Speyer.
“In traditional medicine, the focus is on the patient, but in hospice, it’s on the whole family, and part of that care is bereavement. After the patient dies there will still be continued support for the family,” he said.
According to news reports, Bobbi Kristina’s father, rapper Bobby Brown, was seen speeding into the parking lot of the hospice center on Thursday.
"Despite the great medical care at numerous facilities, Bobbi Kristina Brown's condition has continued to deteriorate," Bobbi Kristina's aunt Pat Houston said in a statement. "We thank everyone for their support and prayers.
"She is in God's hands now."
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