Friday, January 20, 2012

Palliative Care: What is it?

By Steve Jacob

More than three out of four people do not know what palliative care is. Once it is explained, nearly everyone believes they and their loved ones should have access to it.

The goal of palliative care is to relieve a patient's disease symptoms, or to minimize a treatment's side effects. People in hospice, who no longer receive treatment to cure their illness, always receive palliative care during their final months of life.

Palliative care is an interdisciplinary approach designed to minimize pain and enhance quality of life for patients and their families. Palliative caregivers provide spiritual and psychological – as well as medical – guidance, sometimes called "comfort care." Palliative clinicians often help families and patients make difficult decisions about whether to use highly aggressive therapies and sort through treatment options. Those decisions are becoming more complex as medical technology continues to increase the number of choices.

Steve Jacob writes about health for Texas newspapers and magazines. This is excerpted from his book Health Care in 2020: Where Uncertain Reform, Bad Habits, Too Few Doctors and Skyrocketing Costs are Taking Us.

Read More:
Why Doctors Can’t Predict How Long a Patient Will LiveThe New York Times Blog

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