Palliative Patient and Family Support

When is palliative care appropriate?

Patients and families should consider a palliative care consultation for the following:

  • Pain that is out of control and/or is not responding to prescribed treatment
  • Severe nausea and/or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Psychological distress including anxiety, agitation, emotional or spiritual anguish
  • Assistance in discussing goals of care such as treatment decisions, options, quality of life, advance directives or code status

Patients Who May Benefit from Palliative Care

Because patients respond differently to treatment options, palliative care customizes treatment to meet the needs of each individual patient.

Patients considered for palliative care include:

  • Seriously ill and/or dying patients whose distressing symptoms are difficult to manage
  • Patients and families who are struggling with decision making about complex medical issues
  • Patients in need of coordination of care through the course of a complex illness

Difference Between Palliative Care and Hospice

Although the philosophies of palliative care and hospice are identical, there are differences.

Palliative Care supports seriously ill hospital patients from the point of diagnosis and throughout the course of their illness. It may be provided concurrently with other medical treatment, including curative treatment.

Hospice is a philosophy of care designed for those who no longer benefit from curative treatment, and life expectancy is generally six months or less. The focus is on comfort and quality of life, and may be delivered in the patient's home, a hospital, nursing home, or private hospice facility. Most hospice care in the United States is given in the home, with family or friends acting as the primary caregiver.

When you're facing a serious illness, quality of life often suffers. Pain, fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, stress and other symptoms can make it difficult to get through each day - let alone find the strength to endure treatment - the palliative care program at Providence Medical Centers helps patients find relief.

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