Do you know about palliative care, the comprehensive treatment for the very sick, but not for those who are dying?
Some doctors do not.
As a physician, do you feel it is a sign of "failure" on your part, when longtime patients have grown tired of treatments, and simply want comfort as they approach end of life?
Some physicians think it is.
As the population ages, and hospitals prepare to care for more chronically ill patients, more physicians should get acquainted with palliative care, to not only to improve patient care, but as a potent cost-savings tool.
With palliative care, hospitals can avoid needless tests and procedures, in part, because patients no longer want them. Palliative care is the comprehensive treatment focused on pain, symptoms and stress of serious illness, or even spiritual assistance for the very sick. Some studies have shown it can extend life.
Still, although not widely practiced, palliative care is becoming part of the discussion among healthcare leaders to improve care, especially for the elderly. In May, a panel of healthcare leaders met in Chicago as part of a HealthLeaders Media Breakthroughs session that focused on improving readmission rates for hospitalized cardiac patients. The talks veered off into other topics, among them palliative care, as well as hospice, or end of life care.