Palliative care: definition, scope, treatment, criteria

Palliative care is a treatment approach that is sometimes confused with palliative care . While it may be related to palliative care, it is much broader in scope. Palliative care ultimately aims to alleviate symptoms associated with a serious illness while improving a person's quality of life, whether that person is at the end of life or not.

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Palliative care involves a specialized group of healthcare and related professionals who work together to meet a person's physical, emotional, practical, and spiritual needs.

This article explores the scope of care associated with hospice services and the types of treatment that may be involved. It also details when palliative care is needed, including the criteria used by healthcare professionals and health insurers.

The scope of care

The ultimate goal of palliative care is to improve the quality of life for a person facing a serious or life-threatening illness. It can start at any time during the disease and be accompanied by medical treatment.

Palliative care is not limited to people receiving end-of-life care. It can be offered to anyone whose illness reduces their quality of life, impairs their ability to function normally, or places an undue burden on their family or caregivers.

Palliative care can include:

  • Provide relief from pain and / or symptoms of illness.
  • Coordination of care between medical and non-medical providers.
  • Minimize the side effects of treatment
  • Meet the emotional, spiritual and social needs of a person.
  • Identify and support the needs of the family or caregivers.

Palliative care is based on a person's needs, not their diagnosis or prognosis .

Palliative care team

Palliative care is usually provided by a team of professionals who can solve various problems. Hospitals, home health agencies, cancer treatment centers, and long-term care facilities can offer it. The care team may include:

Palliative care is a specialized area of medicine. Board Certification for Palliative Care Physicians is administered by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), while nurses and nurse practitioners can become certified through various certification bodies.

Ultimately, you are the most important member of the care team. Palliative care should be geared towards meeting your personal needs and goals. It is important to express your wishes and encourage family members and caregivers to do the same.

Watch out

Palliative care is designed to improve a person's quality of life, and this includes more than just physical problems. Palliative care is a holistic approach that aims to alleviate emotional, social, practical, and spiritual problems.

They may include:

  • Physical problems such as pain, trouble sleeping, shortness of breath , loss of appetite, constipation, nausea, or vomiting.
  • Emotional or social problems , including depression, anxiety, family problems, caregiver burnout , and lack of support.
  • Practical concerns, including insurance, financial, legal, housing, or work-related issues
  • Spiritual problems , including hopelessness and loss of faith.

Palliative care has many benefits. Palliative care can not only improve the quality of life for a person (and their family), but it can also prolong a person's life.

Palliative care used for people with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer increases survival time by an average of 24% compared to those receiving standard care, according to a review published in the Journal of Family Practice .


Palliative care is usually carried out by a team of doctors and other health professionals. It recognizes that people with serious illnesses not only need to solve medical problems, but also benefit from them when their practical, emotional and spiritual needs are also met.

Eligibility and eligibility

Historically, palliative care has been used for people with terminal cancer and has largely been synonymous with palliative care. Over time, this definition has evolved and expanded. Today, palliative care can be applied to many serious or life-threatening conditions, both incurable and non-terminal.

In addition to cancer, palliative care can be used for people with congestive heart failure (CHF) , chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) , stroke , HIV / AIDS , advanced kidney disease, advanced liver disease, and neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease. . Parkinson's disease , multiple sclerosis (MS) , and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) .

Although the decision to use hospice care is largely individual, there are certain criteria that health care providers use to assess the need for such care. According to the Center for Advanced Palliative Care, the criteria may vary depending on who is evaluating the patient.

Criteria categories include:

  • General clinical criteria . Criteria may include multiple hospitalizations, decreased ability to care for oneself, sudden weight loss, tube feeding in critically ill patients, symptoms that are difficult to control, and extreme distress in the patient or caregiver.
  • Criteria for the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) : Criteria may include two more admissions to the ICU during the same admission, multiple organ failure, prolonged use of a ventilator, and admissions to the ICU from nursing homes for people with multiple heart problems. health (such as dementia ).
  • Emergency Department (ER) Criteria: Criteria may include multiple prior hospitalizations for the same condition, patients in long-term treatment who were not prescribed resuscitation (DNR) , and individuals with prior experience in palliative care or medical care in the home .
  • Oncology (cancer) criteria: Criteria may include poor performance (PS) , failure of first or second line chemotherapy , painful bone metastases, progressive brain metastases after radiation exposure, and the need for interventional pain relief .

There may also be eligibility criteria for coverage. For example, Medicare only covers hospice care for certain conditions. Also, while Medicare Part B covers certain hospice services (such as doctor's fees), Medicare Part A benefits can only apply to hospice care.


Palliative care can be applied to many terminal or non-terminal conditions. Care criteria may vary depending on the individual's health status, health status, or hospitalization history, and other factors. Insurance companies may also have coverage criteria.


Palliative care aims to relieve symptoms and improve the quality of life for people with serious or life-threatening illnesses. It can be included in palliative care, but it is not the same as palliative care. With palliative care, you can still get help whether your condition is incurable or not.

Palliative care is often provided by a group of providers, including doctors and other healthcare professionals. The scope of care includes not only medical services such as pain relief and respiratory care, but a person's emotional, practical, and spiritual needs can also be met.

The criteria for the provision of palliative care may vary depending on the health status, the health status of the person and other factors. But ultimately, it aims to comfort people with many kinds of serious illnesses, and not just cancer.

Get the word of drug information

Just because your doctor recommends palliative care does not mean that you or someone close to you is the end of your life. While palliative care can be part of palliative care, it is not palliative care. The goal of palliative care is to improve your life and that of your family, regardless of life expectancy or whether your illness is curable or incurable.

Also, if you sign up for hospice but later change your mind, you can continue to receive hospice care (although there may be some restrictions on insurance coverage). If you are not clear why hospice was recommended, talk to your doctor or seek a different opinion from a licensed hospice and hospice healthcare professional.

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