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What is palliative medicine?

Palliative medicine is specialized care that focuses on relieving the symptoms, pain, and stresses of a serious illness. The Palliative Medicine team seeks to improve the quality of life for both patients with serious illnesses and their families. This involves reducing the symptoms and distresses associated with the illness while keeping patients as active and mentally clear as possible. Palliative care is not limited to end of life care.

Palliative medicine can help any time in the course of a serious illness, no matter the diagnosis or treatment.

Palliative medicine improves quality of life

Palliative medicine treats people suffering from serious and chronic illnesses such as cancer; cardiac disease, including congestive heart failure (CHF); chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); Multiple Sclerosis (MS); kidney failure; Alzheimer’s; Parkinson’s; Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS); and many more.medicine treats people suffering from serious and chronic illnesses such as cancer; cardiac disease, including congestive heart failure (CHF); chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); Multiple Sclerosis (MS); kidney failure; Alzheimer’s; Parkinson’s; Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS); and many more.

Who can benefit from palliative medicine?

  • Patients with life-altering diagnoses who have evidence of physical, emotional, social, or spiritual suffering.
  • Patients with chronic disease who have been admitted frequently to the hospital (three or more times in the last six months).
  • May be very helpful for nursing home patients older than 85 years old.
  • Patients and families who are struggling with understanding the disease process and what to expect.
  • Patients and families who are struggling with difficult health care decisions.
  • Patients and families uncertain about which treatment options to choose.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a serious illness and is currently in the hospital, you may benefit from palliative care.

How does palliative medicine work?

Your Palliative Medicine team consists of a doctor, nurse practitioner, and other specialists trained to meet the needs of people who are seriously ill. The Palliative Medicine team offers you and your family:

  • Medical help in controlling discomfort and symptoms.
  • Information to help you make appropriate health care decisions.
  • Help in navigating the health care system.
  • Guidance with difficult and complex treatment choices.
  • Help and support for you and your family in dealing with the stresses of a serious illness.

Palliative medicine focuses on symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, constipation, nausea, loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping, and depression. It also may be able to help you gain the strength to carry on with daily life while improving your ability to tolerate medical treatments. It gives you more control over your care by helping you understand your disease, the choices available to you, and the questions to ask your doctor.

How is palliative medicine different from hospice?

Palliative medicine is not hospice. Palliative medicine is different because it:

  • Is available any time in the course of a serious illness or disease.
  • Can be provided along with any treatment chosen.
  • Works with your physician to help you feel better and be more active.
  • Can help while you and your health care providers are focused on curing the disease or living longer.