Debility Unspecified & Failure to Thrive: Common Hospice Diagnoses

Author: Linh Nguyen, MD


Debility Unspecified and Failure to Thrive diagnoses allow more patients to appropriately receive hospice benefits.

While not always evident initially, upon further review the patient may have multiple risk factors which, when grouped together, meet hospice criteria.

Multiple risk factors may include sudden or progressive decline in:

Diagnostic studies or treatment may have been offered but declined, or not feasible.

Common objective hospice tools may be utilized to show a decline in: 

Multiple borderline factors justify hospice admission.



General hospice guidelines

See disease-specific guidelines for other hospice diagnoses


Diagnosis of Failure to Thrive and Debility Unspecified


Key Points



VITAS. (2013). VITAS Hospice Eligibility Reference Guide [Mobile application software]. Retrieved from