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What is Palliative Medicine?

Palliative Medicine is a newer care option in our area that is becoming well-known for delivering specialized care for individuals with serious illnesses. While the focus on this type of care is symptom management and stress reduction, the overall goal is to improve the quality of life for the patient and their family.

As an extra level of support, a palliative team of trained specialists coordinate care with your loved one’s primary care physician and specialists. Palliative Medicine offers a consultative service in both an inpatient (hospital) or outpatient (i.e. home or assisted living) setting.

An inpatient palliative physician focuses on symptom management and “goals of care” (GOC). The clinical diagnoses will be communicated to the patient and family while seeking clarification of the patient’s priorities. Advanced care planning (ACP) will also be discussed so care options can be presented.

Outpatient palliative medicine is similar to inpatient, however the team visits your loved one where they are (home or assisted living). As a consultative service that provides an additional layer of support for a patient and family, a palliative team can include physicians, physician’s assistants, nurses, social workers, chaplains and pharmacists that work alongside the patient’s hospital, primary care physician and specialists. Services include symptom management, medication reconciliation and advanced care planning. Visits occur typically every 4-6 weeks.

In summary, Palliative Medicine is appropriate at any age when a loved one is diagnosed with a life-limiting illness, and the cost may be covered by Medicare or private insurance.

By: Mark Sylvester