Palliative Care Consultation

Palliative Care is a widely used term in today’s medicine and is in some ways confusing. It may mean different things to different people. Palliate means “to cloak” in Latin and the term palliative care is used to describe treatment to ease symptoms associated with disease. It has come to be associated with treatment of suffering from cancer or disease at the end of life. It is not quite the same as Hospice care. For some, palliative care is considered a departure from aggressive treatment of the underlying disease; For example something you do when you stop treating a cancer not responding to chemotherapy. Most agree however, that a focus on symptoms, i.e. palliation of pain, nausea, insomnia, anorexia, depression should go hand in hand with the treatment of any illness. Palliative care specialists understand symptom management and also are very sensitive to the challenges faced by patients and families struggling with complex decision making when life and death are in the balance. The technology of today requires careful consideration of treatments which may or may not be in the patient’s best interest, or in line with their values. Along with symptom management, this decision making is one of the most important aspects of palliative care discussions. Our group has taken a strong interest in this important field of medicine and sees a growing need for palliative care specialists in the future.