Palliative and Hospice Care
Palliative care is the name given to medical care when the goals of care change from a curative focus to a comfort focus. Palliative care aims to maintain a high quality of life in the face of serious illness, addressing medical, as well as psychological and emotional needs. Standard medical care, which has a more curative focus, can often overlap with palliative care. For example, both standard and palliative care patients may both decide to be treated with antibiotics for a pneumonia as antibiotics would be both curative and, if without significant side effects, would lessen suffering. The treatments would possibly differ, however, in the decision to take chemotherapy for incurable cancer. A patient who opts for a more palliative care approach may decide on being treated with a lesser degree of chemotherapy, or no chemotherapy at all, with the desire to live more comfortably for less time rather than live longer from possibly intolerable chemotherapy.
Hospice care, in the United States, is the term applied to care in which hospice services are made available to terminally ill patients. These services are palliative in nature and are aimed at relieving suffering. They are provided by a team of care givers including physicians, nurses, social workers, counselors, home health aids and volunteers. In order to qualify for hospice a physician must determine that a patient is more likely than not to be within the last six months of life. A hospice organization will offer a range of services and support for a patient and family who decide to utilize this resource. Care can be delivered at home or in the hospital.
Our firm works with health maintenance organizations’ palliative and hospice care groups. This work is both rewarding and extremely difficult. The goal is to give our subjects a way of telling their family and friends what is important to them, the lessons they have learned in life and how they wish to be remembered. For pediatric patients, we work closely with their families and focus on the good and valuable aspects of their child’s life and the important things to be remembered.