What is Palliative Care

Palliative care is available to anyone with a life-limiting or life threatening illness.  It is for patients at any stage of illness.  The palliative care program is designed to ease physical pain and assist with other health issues when an illness is serious.  Palliative care assists with the following:

    • Pain/symptom management
    • Improve/maintain quality of life
    • Determining goals of care
    • Discuss realistic expectations
    • Clarification of code status
    • Family/staff support during withdrawal of life support
    • Psychosocial/spiritual support
    • Coordination of care across settings
    • Have a disease or injury that cannot be cured
    • Have made multiple trips to the emergency room in the past 6 months
    • Have pain or other symptoms that interfere with your daily activities
    • Need assistance with setting your goals of care and treatment preferences


What is the difference between Palliative Care & Hospice?

The goal of Palliative Care is to improve quality of life for patients and their families who have chronic or life-limiting illnesses.  Hospice care is for an individual who is expected to live for less than six months.

Where do I go to receive Palliative Care services?

While you are in the hospital, your primary physician can help you determine if Palliative Care is right for you. If so, the Palliative Care team will become a part of your treatment team.

Can I receive Palliative Care outside the hospital after I am discharged?

After discharge, Palliative Care services may be available to you through outpatient physicians and other agencies.

Will I have a new doctor if I use Palliative Care?

Most Palliative Care services follow a consultation model. This means that the Palliative Care team will work with you and your treatment team to develop a plan of care that meets your needs.

Are Palliative Care services covered by insurance?

Yes, Palliative Care is covered by most insurance policies, including Medicare and some Medicaid. For more information, please ask your insurance provider.

Does receiving Palliative Care mean that I am dying or giving up?

No! Palliative Care began in the 1980s under the premise that all patients with chronic diseases should receive proper symptom management regardless of the stage of their disease.

Does receiving Palliative Care mean that I will die sooner?

No! Studies have shown that patients with appropriate pain and symptom management often live longer and enjoy a better quality of life than those without.

Can I still pursue active treatment of my disease (i.e. hemodialysis, chemotherapy, radiation) if I do Palliative Care?

Absolutely. Palliative Care will follow you through all stages of your disease and treatment and is most beneficial when started early in your disease process.

What kinds of symptoms does the Palliative Care team treat?

Other than pain, the Palliative Care team may treat symptoms including:

    • Nausea & vomiting
    • Fatigue
    • Constipation
    • Diarrhea
    • Insomnia
    • Anorexia
    • Shortness of breath
    • Hiccups
    • Anxiety and stress
    • Depression, hopelessness, and isolation
    • Anticipatory grief and bereavement
    • Any other symptoms arising from your disease or treatment

What if I experience severe, unrelieved symptoms at home? Can I go back to the hospital?

Yes. Notify the Emergency Room team or your admitting physician that you would like to be seen by the Palliative Care team.

Will I become addicted to pain medications?

Addiction is compulsive drug use despite harmful consequences and is characterized by an inability to stop using a drug, failure to meet obligations, and sometimes tolerance and withdrawal.

Patients who take medications for the purpose of pain control very rarely become addicted. However, patients may develop tolerance to medications and require more to achieve a certain effect. This is different than addiction and is an expected response to the medication.

What if I have side effects from my medications?

Most side effects from pain medications, including drowsiness and dizziness will subside after 1 to 2 days. If side effects persist or are extremely bothersome, your Palliative Care team can make adjustments to your medications as needed.

How Does Palliative Care Differ from The Care I’m Getting Now?

Palliative care can be provided alongside of your current treatment and care. Your palliative care team works with your current doctor and others to provide specific treatments and care plans. Palliative care is meant to enhance your current care by focusing on quality of life for you and your family.