October 2020
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Palliative care is a multidisciplinary approach to specialized medical and nursing care for people with life-limiting illnesses.

It focuses on providing relief from the symptoms, pain, physical stress, and mental stress at any stage of illness.

The goal is to improve the quality of life for both the person and their family

Palliative care is provided by a team of physicians, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and other health professionals who work together with the primary care physician and referred specialists and other hospital or hospice staff to provide additional support.

It is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness and can be provided as the main goal of care or along with curative treatment.

Although it is an important part of end-of-life care, it is not limited to that stage.

Palliative care can be provided across multiple settings including in hospitals, at home, as part of community palliative care programs, and in skilled nursing facilities.

Interdisciplinary palliative care teams work with people and their families to clarify goals of care and provide symptom management, psycho-social, and spiritual support.

Physicians sometimes use the term palliative care in a sense meaning palliative therapies without curative intent, when no cure can be expected (as often happens in late-stage cancers).

Medications and treatments are said to have a palliative effect if they relieve symptoms without having a curative effect on the underlying disease or cause.

This can include treating nausea related to chemotherapy or something as simple as morphine to treat the pain of broken leg or ibuprofen to treat pain related to influenza infection.

Medical Uses

Palliative care is given to people who have any serious illness and who have physical, psychological, social, or spiritual distress as a result of the treatment they are seeking or receiving.

Palliative care increases comfort by lessening pain, controlling symptoms, and lessening stress for the patient and family, and should not be delayed when it is indicated.

Palliative care is not reserved for people in end-of-life care and can improve quality of life, decrease depressive symptoms, and increase survival time.

If palliative care is indicated for a person in an emergency department, then that care should begin in the emergency department immediately and with referral to additional palliative care services.

Introduction to Palliative Care

Palliative Care vs Hospice Care: What is the Difference? | Dying Matters

Palliative Care: Who is it For, What Does it Do, Why Should I Want it and When?

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