Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. This type of care is focused on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress of a serious illness – whatever the diagnosis.

The Goal of Palliative Care

  • To improve quality of life for both the patient and the family.
  • To include expertise from palliative doctors, nurses, social workers and other specialists in collaboration with a patient’s other doctors.
  • To provide an extra layer of support.
  • To care for patients at any age, any stage in a serious illness, and together with curative treatment.

Palliative Care vs. Hospice Care

Palliative Care

  • Quality of Life Focus
  • Interdisciplinary Team – MD, RN, MSW, Chaplain
  • Provided in Hospitals and as an Outpatient Consultative Service
  • Serious or Advanced Illness
  • Prognosis-No Limit
  • Curative and Comfort Care at Same Time
  • Usually Not Covered by Insurance or Medicare

Hospice Care

  • Quality of Life Focus
  • Interdisciplinary Team-MD, RN, MSW, Chaplain, Home Health Aide, Volunteers
    Provided in Homes, Skilled Nursing, Retirement Residences and Dedicated Hospice Inpatient Unites
  • Includes Pharmaceuticals, Medical Equipment, and Bereavement Support
  • Terminal Diagnosis or End Stage
  • Prognosis-6 Months or Less with Ongoing Decline
  • Comfort Care Only – Curative Treatment Usually Stopped
  • Covered by Medicare and Most Insurances

Examples of Palliative Care Referrals

Patients with:

  • Pain, psychosocial or spiritual suffering, or other symptoms of distress
  • ICU stay and poor prognosis
  • Complex decision-making needs
  • Prolonged hospital stay without improvements
  • Life-sustaining treatments needing to be discontinued
  • Need of support near death for self and family