Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious or life-threatening illness from the time of diagnosis and throughout the course of illness.
The Clinical Practice Guidelines for Quality Palliative Care, developed as part of the National Consensus Project(NCP), defines palliative care:
Palliative care means patient and family centered care that optimizes quality of life by anticipating, preventing and treating suffering. Palliative care throughout the continuum of illness involves addressing physical, intellectual, emotional, social and spiritual needs to facilitate patient autonomy, access to information and choice.
At UTMB, our goals are to provide patients with care and resources to:
- Treat our patient's pain and symptoms vigorously
- Provide relief from worry, anxiety and depression
- Provide communication about their care over time
- Coordinate care throughout the multiple-year course of an illness
- Offer support for family caregivers
- Offer a support system to help patients live as actively as possible and enhance their quality of life
- Help patient's feel safe in the health care system
- Use a team approach to address the needs of patients and their families
Prior version of NCP describes palliative care:
Palliative care affirms life by supporting the patient's and family's goals for the future, including their hopes for cure or life prolongation, as well as their hopes for peace and dignity throughout the course of illness, including the dying process and death.
Palliative care is provided by a team of doctors, nurses, social workers and chaplains who work with the patient’s other doctors to provide support. Palliative care is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness, and can be provided together with curative treatment.
Palliative care is different from hospice care. Although they share the same principles of comfort and support, palliative care begins at diagnosis and continues during treatment and beyond.
Palliative care can be provided in the hospital and ambulatory care settings.