ROCHESTER, Minn. — Palliative care, a specialized, multidisciplinary team approach to caring for seriously ill people and their families, is often errantly reduced to end-of-life care. This misconception has led to palliative care involvement being introduced late in an illness, often depriving patients and their families of comprehensive symptom control, support and assistance with complex decision-making throughout the course of their illness when it could provide the most benefit.
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Palliative care is ideally integrated earlier in the course of an illness as part of a comprehensive care plan, alongside disease-directed care. There is even convincing evidence that integrating palliative care earlier in the disease course improves quality of life, helps to minimize unwanted and unhelpful interventions, and may even help patients live a little bit longer. Palliative care is available to help clinicians care for patients and their families at any age and any stage of a serious illness. Studies show that the involvement of palliative care leads to more effective, efficient and less costly care, but not less care.
In a recent article published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Mayo Clinic physicians Jacob Strand, M.D., and Elise Carey, M.D., along with Mihir Kamdar, M.D., from Massachusetts General Hospital, shared 10 Things Palliative Care Clinicians Wished Everyone Knew About Palliative Care. These include:
"Palliative care is a subspecialty of medicine in which we care for patients with complex and severe illness," says Dr. Carey. "It is really about taking care of patients and their families throughout the course of their illness, at any stage of the illness, even while they are getting life-prolonging or curative care."
Palliative care specialists focus on treating more than the disease; they focus on the whole person and his or her lived experience. "Persons receiving specialist palliative care are able to live better and longer and achieve their goals while living with their serious illness," says Cory Ingram, M.D., the medical director of Palliative Medicine for Mayo Clinic Health System. "This is done by an expert team approach to symptom assessment and management, supportive counseling, care planning, care coordination and crisis prevention. Not only do the patients live better, their family does too."
The following Mayo Clinic experts are available to comment on palliative care and its potential benefits to patients, families, caregivers and providers:
To schedule an interview with one of these palliative care experts, please call Duska Anastasijevic at 507-284-5005.
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