Palliative care is becoming an important part of the total care of patients. The concept once was reserved for those facing end-of-life care and issues, but it has now expanded to include pain management and quality of life issues for those undergoing treatment for serious illness.
It is generally called for when patients are undergoing extensive treatment that has significant effects on their normal lives.
Their treatment may involve significant surgical wounds and resulting pain that requires careful management to allow them to recover.
In addition, these patients may require social and spiritual support to help aid in their recovery and extend their lives. It often uses holistic
care to provide a full range of support for the patient, including psychological services, pain relief, family support services and help with
It can also include end-of-life care to keep people comfortable and positive in their last days.
It is generally given to any patient who has a serious illness or chronic condition that threatens life or has an unpredictable outcome.
It can be given in a hospital, nursing home or home. It can be helpful at any time in a serious illness. Generally, care teams work with patients who have obstructive pulmonary problems, cancer, kidney disease, congestive heart failure, HIV/AIDS and multiple sclerosis.
Any serious, chronic illness that has flare-ups may require palliative treatment.
This type of care helps in educating patients about the best ways to manage their care during illness. It also involves patients in healthcare
decisions giving them a greater say in treatment. It goes beyond simply treating the illness, providing both psychological and spiritual support.
It administers a number of types of treatment to help relieve pain, assist breathing, reduce nausea from treatment or help with appetite problems.
Spiritual support can be a critical factor in providing physical and psychological comfort to the patient. This type of care can also assist with practical problems of an illness, such as transferring to another kind of healthcare facility.
The specialists are physicians and other professionals that work in conjunction with the physician in charge of the curative treatment.
The team may also include a nurse practitioner, nurse, pharmacist, physical therapist, social worker, chaplain and translator, if required.
These individuals work together to find the most effective ways to reduce pain and increase comfort for the individual during difficult stages of the illness.
Generally, the physician in charge of the patient will discuss the possibility of care with the patient. He then consults with the care team about the patient’s medical condition. The needs of the patient are then determined, so that the care team can provide whatever is required for the patient’s comfort.
It does not substitute for medical care. If the patient needs
to return to the hospital for additional care or requires other forms of treatment, the care team can assist the patient in accessing
This type of care is not hospice care. It does not have any expectations for outcome beyond the comfort of the patient. A patient may request hospice care, if needed, to help with preparation for end of life.
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