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Why is palliative medicine so important?

Dr. Debbie Nogueras, MSN
Nursing Specialist

All too often healthcare providers are concerned about adequately providing pain relief in conditions which are chronic in nature (and often not imminently terminal). Palliative medicine seeks to bridge those care gaps and provide appropriate care. This is not only important for the patient but also for their families, friends and loved ones.

Dr. William Wien, DO
Family Practitioner

Despite advances of modern medicine, there are countless diseases and conditions which cannot be cured, but only "managed" and treated to reduce symptoms and patient discomfort. Many diseases cause chronic pain and suffering, some of which are terminal and for which palliative care is absolutely vital and essential. Even where cure is impossible, much can be done to ease the suffering of patients.

Dr. Edward A. Jackson, MD
Family Practitioner

Palliative medicine has a different focus. By this it is meant that the illness is treated for control of symptoms as the goal versus the cure of the disease. It focuses on common complaints such as nausea, vomiting, pain, decreased appetite and shortness of breath as examples of areas that palliative medicine tries to treat. Using the symptoms as the guide allows for improved patient well-being while realizing that underlying issue may not be cured. As an example, a patient with cancer that has spread to areas such as the spine or bone may not be able to be cured, but the bone pain can be treated to make the patient more comfortable. Palliative care may be the bridge from active treatment of a very life threatening illness to hospice care where the patient is recognized as having a limited life expectancy, typically less than six months.

A palliative care team helps guide patients and families through the difficult decisions that come with treating a serious medical condition.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.