Palliative care is medical care to relieve suffering and improve the quality
of life for patients with serious and/or life-threatening illness. This
is accomplished with advanced symptom management facilitated by a team
of experts. Palliative care is provided at the same time as other appropriate
medical treatment. Unlike hospice, palliative care is available to any
patient, not just patients with a limited life expectancy. Patients referred
to the Palliative Care Team can continue curative treatments and receive
aggressive treatment for their pain and other symptoms, along with increased
physical and spiritual support.
Our Consultative Palliative Care Team is comprised of doctors, nurses,
social workers and chaplains. This team may be asked by your physician
to provide palliative care to you. This is an additional resource provided
to you and your family while you are an inpatient. Your physician remains
the leader of your medical team.
Your Physician and Palliative Care Team Can Help by:
- Providing services that meet the special physical, psychosocial and spiritual
needs of you and your family
- Offering assistance to you and your family to identify goals of treatment
- Helping with aggressive management of pain and other symptoms
- Supporting family care givers
- Simply listening and offering support
Other Benefits of Palliative Care
Most patients suffering from illness want symptom management and some sense
of control. Many times they want to spend time with their loved ones to
remember good times and talk about important things. Pain and other symptoms
may get in the way of allowing the patient to do this. When your physician
asks the Palliative Care Team to assist with your care, it is similar
to a referral to any other specialist.
How Does Palliative Care Begin?
Your primary care physician may discuss palliative care with you. If you
choose, your physician will make a referral to our Palliative Care Team.
You may also ask your physician for a palliative care consult. The team
will respond promptly by reviewing your medical record and current plan
of care. The team will assess both your needs as well as the needs of
your family. The findings will determine the palliative plan of care,
which will be recommended to you and your physician.
The following are some suggestions for you and your family as you discuss
your goals of care with your physician:
- Ask your doctor to explain your illness as well as past, current and future
treatments and procedures.
- Explain to your doctor what quality of life means to you. This list may
include being able to spend time with loved ones, having pain and other
distressing symptoms aggressively treated, the ability to make your own
decisions for care and your preferred location of treatments (home vs.
in the hospital).
- Be sure your doctor is aware of any personal, religious or cultural beliefs,
values or practices that are important to consider in your care and treatment
- Tell your doctor what curative treatments you may or may not want, such
as resuscitation if your heart were to stop, being placed on a mechanical
ventilator if your lungs were to fail, undergoing dialysis if your kidneys
were to fail, and artificial nutrition by a feeding tube if you were unable to eat.